India's Jekyll-and-Hyde performance in the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers continued, as they missed chances galore in a 1-1 draw away against Afghanistan in Dushanbe on Thursday.
India's performance was patchy, with a bright start giving way to a late goal conceded in injury time of first half against Zelfegar Nazary of Afghanistan. Substitute Seminlen Doungel saved India their blushes with a headed goal off a Brandon Fernandes corner in the third minute of time added in the second half, one where India showed greater purpose moving forward.
India now have three points from four games, and are winless after half their qualifiers. They are unbeaten on the road, but have conceded against every team other than Asian champions Qatar.
Stimac made some positive changes in the second half, replacing Mandar with Farukh Choudhary and then putting Manvir Singh on for Sahal. India began creating more pressure near the Afghan goal, and Chhetri had the easiest of chances to score in the 68th minute, played in from a corner swept in from the left side. He had an empty goal at the far post, as Afghanistan goalkeeper Ovays Azizi was slow to react to the chance, but he headed the ball over, just kissing the crossbar along the way.
Stimac then introduced Doungel for Pritam Kotal, and India appeared happier to congest the attacking third with players queuing up for shots. Brandon produced some long-range efforts, but rarely got anywhere close to bothering Azizi.
It was Brandon, however, who provided a precise corner delivery into the centre of the six-yard box ahead of Azizi late in the match, and Doungel attacked the ball and headed it into the corner of the net.
It was too little, too late, though. India now play Oman away in Muscat on November 19.
Here's how the match unfolded. (Blog will appear below. Please wait a few moments for the blog to load. If it still doesn't appear, click here.)