Indian men's football team's first match since the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers in June ended in a 1-1 draw against Singapore in the Hung Thinh Friendly Football Tournament at the Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on Saturday.
Igor Stimac's India had rested experienced central defender Sandesh Jhingan and went behind in the 37th minute through a goal from Ikhsan Fandi but found the equaliser six minutes later through Ashique Kuruniyan.
Fandi had an effort cleared by central defender Anwar Ali and another kept out by goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu inside 25 minutes.
India’s first serious attack came in the 18th minute when they launched a combined attack that nearly resulted in a goal. Set up by Ashique Kuruniyan, Liston Colaco's goal-bound effort from outside the box was denied by goalkeeper and opposition skipper Hassan Sunny. The Singapore custodian also denied a headed effort from Anwar on 30 minutes.
Soon after, Fandi put Singapore ahead from a freekick that deflected off the wall and embraced the net.
India hit back almost immediately through Kerala attacker Kuruniyan. His state-mate, Sahal Abdul Samad intercepted the ball in the middle of the park and fed skipper Sunil Chhetri who played a defence-splitting pass that was finished off with a left footed shot from Kuruniyan.
The young winger, Kuruniyan combined with Thapa to nearly score again but Hassan made a save.
Skipper Chhetri said after the match, “There are many things that we could have done better. I’m sure the coach will have a talk with us about it. We missed a lot of chances, and maybe we could have defended a little better, but without being too harsh on ourselves, there are a few things that we need to work on.
(With AIFF inputs)