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INDIA Lose against Turkmenistan in their Russia 2018 World Cup Preliminary Round

In what was a tale of two halves, India lost lead and match to go down 1-2 in their Russia 2018 World Cup Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 match against Turkmenistan at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Tuesday (March 29).
After a Sandesh Jhingan header off a Narayan Das free-kick had put the Men in Blue ahead in the 26th minute, the Indians despite holding onto the lead in the first half tended to get a bit casual and eventually paid the price in the second. Not to forget that had not Turkmenistan missed a penalty, it would have been worse.
National Coach Stephen Constantine didn’t hide his disappointment in the Official post-match Media Interaction.

“There are no excuses. To be honest, we started very poorly and if we look at ourselves, we got exactly what we deserved from the game,” he admitted. “Halicharan was carrying a knock from the match against Iran so we had to patch up some areas. The boys could not do their best,” he added.

Maintaining possession seemed an impossible task for the Men in Blue, even at the pedestrian pace at which they played.

“Our stats suggest that a Player gave away the Ball 17 times. You cannot do that at any level, and here we are playing at the International level,” Constantine informed.

The weather in Kochi was humid but as the match progressed Turkmenistan, much to everyone’s surprise seemed to be more at home than India.

“We need to take a look at ourselves and see what and how we can get better. Perhaps, we gave more than we had in the match against Iran and maybe, four days later we can’t cope with two matches being played after four days,” he stated.

“The GPSs suggest that the fitness levels in the second half were considerably down from what we had in the first half but we didn’t play well in either half.”

India were further dented by the absence of Sunil Chhetri who was confined to the bench. “I am not the kind of Coach to play a Player who is injured. He is recovering from injury that’s he had for quite some time. I could have easily played for the last 15 minutes but that would have risked him for the next six months,” Constantine echoed.

Besides Chhetri, the Men in Blue also missed the services of Robin Singh, 2015 AIFF Player of the Year Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Aiborlang Khongjee, Dhanpal Ganesh and Bikash Jairu.

But as Constantine admitted, “there are no excuses.”

INDIA: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK); Pritam Kotal, Sandesh Jhingan, Arnab Mondal, Augustine Fernandes; Udanta Singh (66’ – Seityasen Singh – debut for India), Rowlin Borges (77’ – Mohammed Rafique – debut for India), Pronoy Halder, Narayan Das, Jeje Lalpekhlua (C), Cavin Lobo (53’ – Halicharan Narzary).

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