India pulled off a brave performance to hold hosts China to a goalless draw in the first international friendly in 21 years between the two most populous countries in the world.
China dominated the historic friendly and despite many clear chances, they failed to get a goal to their name. Although it can be counted as a failure for the Chinese forwards, it definitely was a spectacular performance by the Indian defence comprising of Narayan Das, Pritam Kotal, Subhashish Bose and the captain Sandesh Jhingan.
China’s star striker missed the target on a number of occasions as the woodwork also came to the rescue of the Indians for a minimum of three times. But it was a rock-solid Gurpreet Singh Sandhu who was absolutely spectacular in the Indian goal as he pulled off four crucial saves to deny the Chinese any breakthrough whatsoever.
Although no team were clear winners at the end, India could take credit for their performance which wasn’t anything short of wonderful as they held a higher-ranked Chinese side in their own country. Adding to the visitors’ tight defence which denied China a number of times, the attack too does deserve its share of praise after they looked threatening to score from counter-attacks.
Stephen Constantine and his men had two good chances to go ahead in both the halves-through Pritam Kotal and Farukh Choudhary.
Nonetheless, things remained pretty even at the end of the match as India, holding a side which is ranked 76th in the FIFA rankings is expected to gain some places up the ladder from its 97th position.
This match was thus an extension of a continuing struggle for China who now have failed to score in three consecutive matches. Last month they had lost 0-1 to Qatar before settling for a barren draw with Bahrain. Marcello Lippi, who won the 2006 FIFA World Cup with Italy has further problems to worry about as his team haven’t yet found the back of the net since their 2-0 win over Thailand in June.
Image credit-The Indian Express