Sunil Chhetri 3/10 as wasteful India salvage draw against Afghanistan
Player ratings: Afghanistan 1 - 1 India
India still remain a threat from set-pieces.
It took until the 93rd minute for India to put a decent set-piece into the Afghanistan box.
Defensively all over the place in the first half, and for some reason seemed unwilling to get numbers into the box during moments of attacking promise in that same period.
Manager rating out of 10 -- 5 Igor Stimac's gameplan was pretty evident from the off, take the game to the hosts, exert pressure high up, and play the ball along the ground. That lasted for 15 minutes. Everything after that, from an Indian point of view, was chaos. Managed his substitutions well, though, with all three improving India's gameplay considerably, but it's hard to decipher a meaningful pattern to India's play at the moment, especially when forced to dictate play, and Stimac will have to take ownership of that.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best)
GK Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, 5 -- Couldn't really have done much about Zelfagar Nazary's belter that opened the scoring for Afghanistan and apart from a moment of indecision under the high ball (a flap that brought memories of Bangladesh rushing in), was up to the task when called upon.
DF Pritam Kotal, 5 -- Started the game brightly, linking up well with Udanta and sending in some decent crosses. Unfortunately, India refused to commit men into the box during that early period and the onus was lost. Faded as the game wore on.
DF Rahul Bheke, 5 -- The versatile defender stepped up into the centre of defence and didn't do much wrong through the ninety.
DF Adil Khan, 6 -- Had some good moments in defence, putting in some vital last-ditch tackles as is his wont, and keeping the ball calmly at feet when under pressure. Wasn't helped by Mandar's defensive indecisiveness and as a result found himself out of position quite a lot in the first half as he tried to cover for his left-back.
DF Mandar Rao Desai, 2 -- Was run ragged for the vast majority of the first half -- all of Afghanistan's best moves, including the opening goal, coming from his flank. Put out of his misery as he was subbed off at the interval.
MF Pronay Halder, 5 -- With Brandon dropping deep, Halder looked a little lost further up in midfield when in possession. He could have done better with the Afghan goal, but didn't do much wrong otherwise. Not usually an effective offensive weapon, he did tend to slow down moves when in possession of the ball deep in the Afghan half. .
MF Sahal Abdul Samad, 3 -- The ball just wouldn't stick to the feet of India's usual creator-in-chief. Passes were misplaced, dribbles were stopped before they even began. Didn't contribute much defensively either. Was taken out just before the hour mark.
MF Brandon Fernandes, 6 -- Was picked to play the quarterback role and ensure possession was converted into meaningful passages of play, but for vast tracts couldn't really affect play. Started brightly, along with the rest of his teammates, but his frustration showed toward the end as he kept taking wild potshots from distance. Ended the mixed-bag performance with a lovely corner, from which India equalised.
FW Ashique Kuruniyan, 6 -- Terrible as left winger, pretty darn good as left back. Has Carles Cuadrat and Bengaluru FC ensured that this will be Kuruniyan's position from now? In the first half, as a winger, he wasted multiple opportunities with his head-down style of run-first-think-of-passing-later approach. As a defender, made a crucial challenge in the 57th minute that prevented Faysal Shayesteh from running in for a one-on-one. Also combined well with Farukh Choudhary moving forward.
FW Sunil Chhetri, 3 -- If India had been asked who they wanted on the end of an open header three yards from goal, they would have screamed in unison, "Chhetri!" Incredibly, though, India's skipper missed that chance. With passing lanes cut out smartly by Afghanistan, he was starved of service for much of the match but it's that miss that would define his performance on the day. A rare off day.
FW Udanta Singh, 5 -- That early combination with Kotal promised much, but Afghanistan caught on to the act after the opening quarter of an hour, and they were never really threatened down that flank after that. With the experinced Haroon Amiri defending deep at left-back, he was starved of space in behind, and as a result, struggled to make an impact on the game.
Farukh Choudhary, 6 -- Subbed on 45' -- Was excellent down the left flank, curling in some inviting crosses into the box and making off-the-ball runs that Afghanistan had trouble dealing with.
Manvir Singh, 5 -- Subbed on 59' -- Another much needed change. Provided height and power inside the opposition box, where he held up play well and brought in others into the game. Could have done better when given chances to shoot at goal, though.
Seminlen Doungel, 7 -- Subbed on 77' -- Lovely header for his first goal for India, and his latest of equalisers saved face for the favourites after a rather poor overall performance.