Chhetri hammers Cambodia in India’s 2-0 win at AFC Asian Qualifiers

Sunil Chhetri, 37, scored a goal in either half to secure India all three points against Cambodia, keeping the group leaders ahead of Hong Kong after Jorn Andersen’s side defeated Afghanistan earlier.

Only the group winners will be guaranteed a spot in the Finals, where they will be joined by the five runners-up with the best records across the six AFC Asian Cup 2023 Qualifiers qualifying groups.

Image Credits: AIFF

India took the lead in the 12th minute when Chhetri opened the scoring after referee Baraa Kamal Abu Asheh pointed to the spot. India is attempting to qualify for back-to-back AFC Asian Cup competitions for the first time in its history.

When he watched Liston Colaco scythed down by Boris Kok, who had already left Ken Chansopheak and Choun Chanchav in his wake, the Palestinian official was left in no doubt about the spot-kick.

Chhetri took a stride forward and smashed his right foot strike beyond Hul Kimhuy, who guessed correctly but couldn’t react quickly enough to keep out the well-hit penalty.

Stimac’s team continued to have the most of possession but were unable to convert it into goals in the final third, as the Cambodians mainly kept them at bay. Midway through the half, Chhetri had another chance to score, but his header was well wide of the mark.

Brandon Fernandes’ low drive was straight at the goalkeeper, while Roshan Singh Naorem’s effort went over the bar. Late in half, Kimhuy was able to thwart Akash Mishra by palming the midfielder’s attempt wide of the target.

Chhetri continued to be India’s main threat, headed wide five minutes after the restart before doubling his side’s advantage in the 59th minute when he powered Fernandes’ in-swinging cross beyond a hapless Kimhuy.

Soon after, Fernandes attempted a long-range shot as India sought a third goal, but his effort was just off target, while replacement Muhammed Ashique Kuruniyan narrowly missed the mark with less than three minutes remaining in the game.

Despite not being happy with his team’s attacking approach, Chhetri was pleased that they were able to win without conceding on Wednesday.

“It feels great. We were able to keep a clean sheet. We could have done a lot better in a number of ways. “I’m not trying to be cruel,” Chhetri said after the game to Star Sports.

“It wasn’t an easy task”.” It was really hot and humid. But, of course, the situation was the same for both teams: the game’s tempo could not be maintained for an extended period of time. Not to make an excuse, but it was quite humid,” the 37-year-old explained.

“At the end of the day, it was crucial to keep a clean sheet and get the three points, which we did.” After watching the videos, I’m confident the coach will have plenty to say. Overall, it feels fantastic to start on a positive note with a clean slate.” Stay Tuned with The Sportsway for more updates!

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