Asian Cup qualifiers: India, Afghan draw 1-1, both enter next round (Ld)

India were lucky to get away with a 1-1 draw against Afghanistan without actually scoring in a Group E match of the World Cup 2022 and Asian Cup China 2023 Qualifiers here on Tuesday, and still advanced to the third and final round. The Afghan goalkeeper scored the goal in India’s account.

Ovays Azizi scored the self-goal in the 75th minute and Hossein Zamani’s 82nd minute strike drew parity at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium here.

Importantly for Sunil Chhetri’s team, India entered the third and final round of the qualifiers, along with Afghanistan.

Although this is a combined qualification tournament, India are out of contention for the 2022 World Cup.

India finished at the third position in Group E with seven points from eight matches. They won only one match, lost three, and drew four games. They scored six goals and conceded seven to end up with a negative goal difference.

Afghanistan finished fourth with six points from eight matches, out of which they won one and lost four. Three games were drawn.

Qatar, the lone undefeated team in the pool, topped the group with 22 points from eight matches, with seven wins and one draw. Oman finished second with 15 points from five wins from seven matches played. They have one more match to play.

Going into the game against Afghanistan, India needed just a draw to advance to the final round of qualification for the Asian Cup.

India missed a few opportunities to score. They finally got a goal on the scoreboard in the 75th minute when Manvir Singh and Ashique Kuruniyan combined well. Kuruniyan sent a looping cross towards the far post, and a desperate Afghanistan goalkeeper Azizi could only send the ball into his own goal.

However, Afghanistan made amends and drew parity in the 82nd minute when midfielder Noor Husin, on the left flank, did well to find teenager Hossein Zamani, who curled his shot into the far post to beat Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.