Depleted India lose to Jordan despite spirited display

A depleted India side put up a valiant fight but ended up going down 2-1 against Jordan at the King Abdullah II International Stadium in Amman on Saturday.

  • Gurpreet Singh Sandhu produced a fine save to deny Baniatiyeh from the penalty spot on the 10th minute.
  • Jordan goalkeeper Amer Shafi’s goal kick bounced over Gurpreet and put the hosts in the lead on the 25th minute.
  • Jordan doubled their lead on the 58th minute through E Haddad. 
  • Nishu Kumar bagged India’s only goal on the 61st minute.

With almost all of India's attacking players, including Jeje Lalpekhlua, Balwant Singh, Manvir Singh, Sumeet Passi, Udanta Singh, Halicharan Narzary and Ashique Kuruniyan, arriving in Amman late on Friday due to the rains in Kuwait, head coach Stephen Constantine opted to field a very new-look starting XI against Jordan. Anirudh Thapa was deployed as a false nine, while Jerry Lalrinzuala and Jackichand Singh started in the wings. Even the talismanic Sandesh Jhingan was left out of the starting line-up.

The young side struggled to keep hold of the ball as Jordan dominated proceedings from the start. The hosts were awarded a penalty as early as the 10th minute after Pritam Kotal was harshly adjudged to have handled the ball inside the India box. However, India's captain for the night, Gurpreet produced a brilliant save to deny Baniatiyeh from the spot.

But 15 minutes later, Jordan would go on to take the lead, courtesy of a freak goal. A long punt up the field by Jordan goalkeeper and captain Amer Shafi ended up in the back of the net after an awkward bounce bamboozled Gurpreet, who was a little too far off his line.

Jordan continued pressing the India defence and nearly doubled their lead around the 38th-minute mark. Haddad took advantage of Subhasish Bose's slip on the wings and found Al-Bakheet with a cross. The midfielder chested the ball before firing it at goal. Fortunately for India, Subhasish recovered well and was in the right spot to make a goal-line clearance.

Right before the end of the first half, Jordan had another golden opportunity. Baha’ Faisal almost got on the end of a dangerous cross from the right flank. It needed the slightest of touches to end up inside the goal, but the striker couldn't make contact. That would prove to be the last notable piece of action in the first-half as India went into the break trailing by a goal. However, to the credit of the young side, they kept their shape well and didn't give away too many open chances to Jordan.

The Blue Tigers started the second half on a more composed note, managing to string a few passes together and maintained better possession of the ball.

However, just as they started to look more comfortable and started pushing for the equaliser, Jordan broke away in breathtaking fashion. Sameer raced through down the left flank before squaring the ball to Haddad who rifled his shot into the top corner past Gurpreet.

Nevertheless, only a few minutes later India pulled a goal back through substitute Nishu Kumar. The Bengaluru FC defender ghosted behind the Jordan defence and got on the end of a cut back from Germanpreet Singh. His stinging first-time shot proved too much to handle for Shafi and found the back of the net.

Constantine enforced a number of changes in search of the all-important equaliser and India almost found a way back late in the match. Narayan Das' corner almost found Pronay Halder at the far post. It only needed a touch to go in, but the ball just eluded Halder's outstretched foot.

In the end, Jordan emerged as the winner despite India’s resurgence in the second-half.

Watch the match highlights here:

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