Football: India go down 0-3 to UAE in U-23 Asian Cup Qualifiers

India ended their campaign in the AFC U23 Asian Cup Qualifiers on a disappointing note, going down 0-3 to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to finish without a win in the tournament.

India ended their campaign in the AFC U23 Asian Cup Qualifiers on a disappointing note, going down 0-3 to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to finish without a win in the tournament.

After the pool was reduced to three teams following the late withdrawal by the Maldives, India had to handsomely win one of the matches against China and UAE to keep alive their hopes of making it as one of the best second-placed teams, especially after losing to China because of a last-minute goal.

However, those hopes were dashed by the UAE at Dalian Sports Centre Stadium as they emerged 3-0 winners against India.


With this defeat, India finished at the bottom of Group G. However, they played spoilsport for hosts China, who defeated India 2-1 in an earlier match.

Tuesday’s clash was a do-or-die affair for both sides; a win by two or more goals was to guarantee UAE the top spot in Group G of the AFC U-23 Asian Cup 2024 Qualifiers, while three points would have given India a chance to qualify as one of the four best second-placed teams out of the 11 groups.

With a 3-0 victory, UAE finished on top of Group G with four points and a better goal difference. China who ended with four points too, have an outside chance of making the next round as one of the four best second-placed teams.

Both sides sensed the urgency and began the match at great intensity, tackles flying in both halves of the pitch. Jiteshwor Singh picked up a booking around the quarter-hour mark for a tackle in the middle of the pitch.

The UAE managed to take the lead in the 26th minute as the Indian defenders were left rather confused after a melee inside the box. Mohammed Abbas Alblooshi was finally awarded the goal after a lengthy discussion between the referee and his assistant.

The side from the Persian Gulf doubled their lead just three minutes after the half-hour mark when Sultan Adil Alameeri’s low drive from inside the box found the back of the net.

Sensing the game slipping away from them, India began to rotate the ball around the park, looking for openings. However, for all their intent, the UAE back-line managed to keep them at bay.

After the change of ends, India looked to put some pressure on the UAE defence. Parthib Gogoi made a foray down the right into the attacking third early in the second half, but his cross evaded all the forwards.

India head coach Clifford Miranda made a couple of changes, bringing on Rabeeh Anjukandan and Sourav in place of Sanjeev Stalin and Parthib Gogoi a little after the hour mark, as they looked to pull one back.

However, UAE sat back and waited for the perfect opportunity to spring a counter-attack. Goalkeeper Hamad Abdulla Almeqbaali launched a long ball forward, as Eisa Khalfan finished off the move, to make it 3-0.

More changes were in store for India as Rohit Danu and Ayush Chhetri replaced Suhail Bhat and Jiteshwor Singh, followed by the final substitution of the day for India, as Amarjit Singh Kiyam replaced Vibin Mohanan.

Three substitutes combined with 18 minutes of regulation time left, as Danu cut it back to Rabeeh, who passed it on to Sourav, whose shot was blocked.

Sourav and Amarjit had two more chances, but the former was denied by the opposition keeper, while the latter shot wide. Striker and skipper Siva Sakthi had arguably the best chance of the match in injury time, when he curled one with his left foot, aimed at the top corner.

However, Almeqbaali pulled off an airborne save to deny him, as the match was soon brought to an end.


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