In their second Group E match in the AFC U-23 Asian Cup qualifiers, India U-23 lost 1-0 to UAE U-23 at the Fujairah Club Stadium in Fujairah. In a game when chances were scarce, the winners were fortunate to be awarded a penalty in the 80th minute, which Abdullah Idrees duly converted.
The Whites took control of the game right away, having the majority of ball possession. India, on the other hand, maintained their shape well and left little room for the UAE. Sultan Adil and Majid Rashid continued to press but ran out of gas once they reached the attacking third, with Gahlot and Tangri suffocating the attackers.
UAE had a clear sight of the goal until the 33rd minute, but Rashed Salem’s shot was beautifully saved by Dheeraj in a one-on-one situation. India had the ball in the back of the UAE’s net just before halftime, but Ali was assessed to have touched the ball from an off-side position.
After the interval, the game’s dynamics remained mostly the same, with UAE trying every trick in the book to break down an Indian defense that was both disciplined and poised. Due to some miscommunication in the Indian defense, Abdullah Sultan got an open net around the hour mark to head the ball home, but the player could only strike it wide. Stimac quickly reacted by sacrificing Vikram Pratap and summoning SumitRathi.
In the final 20 minutes, the hosts upped the ante by sending more bodies forward in search of the game’s first goal. Ali Saleh received a freebie in the 74th minute after India lost possession of a critical area, but Dheeraj came to the rescue once more with an outstretched hand.
Suresh conceded a penalty with only 10 minutes remaining after bringing down Ali Saleh inside the box. Abdullah Idrees went up to take the penalty kick, and with a calm and composed attempt, the defender broke the deadlock. In the closing embers of the game, Stimac put in Jadhav and Rohit Danu in an attempt to rescue a point, but it was in vain.
In the other match, Oman defeated Kyrgyzstan 1-0, resulting in a three-point draw after two matchdays. On October 30, Stimac’s forces will return to play in the decider versus Kyrgyzstan.