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Iran beat India 4-0 in the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 match at the Azadi Stadium on March 24 | Indian National Football Team Coach Stephen Constantine admitted it was a “very difficult” game.

Lavish praise from Iran Carlos Queiroz is what Stephen Constantine’s young and brave India will take back from the majestic Azadi Stadium as they next face Turkmenistan at home in Kochi on March 29.

“I was very much surprised by Team India’s display. There has been a vast improvement in their performance over the last few months,” he said at the Official post-match Media Interaction after Iran beat India 4-0 in the Russia 2018 FIFA Football World Cup Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 match at the Azadi Stadium on Thursday (March 24).

Fielding a depleted side without four Starting XI Players including “talismanic” Skipper Sunil Chhetri, young India had all odds against them. On the field, they played their heart out with a fantastic work rate, conceded two through penalties and were forced to make two substitutions in the first half itself -- all in an Away match, that too at the Azadi Stadium against Iran.

Harmanjot-Singh-Khabra-vs-India-Iran-World-Cup

Two penalties converted by Captain Ehsan Haji (33rd and 66th); and one each from Sardar Azmoun (61st) and Alireza Jahan (78th) settled it for Team Melli. Iran led one-nil at the half time.

Indian National Football Team Coach Stephen Constantine admitted it was a “very difficult” game.

“They controlled the game. It was a very difficult game for us even before it kicked-off. In the first half, we conceded from a penalty and had two Players coming out for injury. It made it all the more difficult for us,” Constantine said at the Official post-match Media Interaction.

“We are a very young side. One boy made his International debut today and he will never forget the fact that he played his first International match at the Azadi Stadium against Iran” Constantine said, referring to Udanta Singh who became the 23rd Player in the last one year to make his International debut under the Coach, the 504th Player to have played for India in the process.

“We tried to contain Iran and paid the price for some mistakes. We were short in some areas and paid the price for that. Iran are one of the Best Teams in Asia and playing at the Azadi Stadium has its own challenges.”

Watching from the stands, it was easy to pick up Pronay Halder as one of the outstanding performers, playing perhaps his best ever game in his career so far. He was ready to fight, lead, willing to stay in the zone, not indulging in unnecessary tackles that has been his undoing so far and winning almost the one to one battles.

India will leave from Tehran on Friday (March 25) evening and will arrive in Kochi on March 26 morning.

 

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