India picked their third point in the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup joint qualifiers as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Afghanistan in a Group E clash at Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
The Blue Tigers struggled to break down the opposition in the first half. They conceded late in the first session before coming back with a late goal in the second half stoppage time.
Renedy Singh, the experienced India international, believes that Igor Stimac’s side were far too cautious in their approach and paid the price by leaking in a goal in the first half.
“Afghanistan is not Qatar or Oman. Yes, they are a good side and we were playing away. But still, I think we gave them too much respect in the first half and we paid the price.
“Brandon (Fernandes) playing so deep made little sense. In the second half, he moved up a few yards and the game changed. If we can play like that in the second half then why not start from the first? And once you concede first, it becomes very difficult to come back. But credit to team for playing the way they did in the last 25-to-30 minutes,” he told Goal.
India created two opportunities in the second half which fell to captain Sunil Chhetri, who unlike him, didn’t look sharp in front of goal as the chances went begging.
“Chhetri is not God. There were not many players who went into those scoring positions. He headed well from Pritam Kotal's cross but the goalkeeper should also get his due. Yes, we expect him to score those goals but on some days, you will miss,” he defended the veteran striker.
Renedy, however, praised the impact of the three substitutions made by Stimac as India had the upper hand in the game after the hour mark.
“Seminlen Doungel proved that he deserves a place in the national side. He is playing well in the Indian Super League (ISL) and the way he scored was picture-perfect.
“We created chances in the second half only because we were pressing high. This is a good learning for India. The substitutions also were spot on. They were the difference makers. Not only for the goal but Seminlen looked dangerous and Farukh Choudhary was crossing well. So that worked for us,” he shared his thoughts on India’s improved performance in the second session.
Renedy Singh, who serves as the President of Football Players Association of India (FPAI), urged Pronay Halder to improve his ball distribution if he has to fit into Stimac’s system.
“Pronay has to be a little bit quicker in Stimac’s way of football. He also has to improve his ball distribution. In a different style of game, when (Stephen) Constantine was there, he fitted into the side seamlessly. But we need someone who can pass the ball better and can make quick decisions. (Anirudh) Thapa is a better fit in this style.”