Amidst the successful hosting of the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 where the India U-17 football team are winning hearts of 1.3 billion people with their stupendous performances, the senior Indian national football team made matters brighter for the attractive game in the country by qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 on Wednesday October 11. India last played in the tournament in 2011 when they qualified after winning the AFC Challenge Cup.
India host Macau in their fifth match of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers third round.
This is only the fourth time in Asian Cup history that India will be making an appearance.
The first goal came in the 28 minute.
India skipper Sunil Chhetri sounded pretty calm but resolute at the post-match press conference and said, "We have achieved our target but we should keep our heads down and keep on working hard to finish first in the group". An AIFF release stated that coach Stephen Constantine referred to the victory as a "terrific team effort over anything else". I'm immensely proud of my team. "They've gone through anything and everything like the tough training regime, rigorous pressure and at the end of the day, they have delivered", he said. While India failed to even score a goal in Singapore, they could take heart from the fact that they held eventual semi-finalists Iran to a goalless draw, becoming the only team in the tournament to do so.
The win was celebrated by players and fans alike.
Constantine also lavished huge praise on Balwant Singh who got the crucial assist for Sunil's goal in the second half.
Chhetri also tweeted: "Earned our right to battle against Asia's best".
Macau 4-1 in a qualifier match at Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Wednesday night. Chhetri played for Bengaluru FC between 2013 and 2017 and won two I-League titles with the side, apart from reaching the AFC Cup finals.
India still have two games left in qualifying.
The 1964 edition of the AFC Asian Cup, the third in all, was scheduled for May-June in Israel, who were a part of the Asian confederation till 1974, and only switched to being a nation playing officially in Europe as late as 1991.
Borges gave India the lead, but the Indian celebrations did not last long as in the 37th minute, Torrão managed to beat goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.