The Blue Tigers produced a feeble display without their talismanic skipper and under difficult conditions in Bishkek.
It was a battle of immense physical and mental toughness as Kyrgyz Republic defeated India by a margin of 2-1 in an inconsequential Group A match in the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers at the Dolen Omurzakov Stadium in Bishkek last evening. The visitors were caught completely with their guards off within the first couple of minutes of the game as the White Falcons took an early lead via Anton Zemlianukhin. In the 72nd minute, Mirlan Murzaev doubled the lead to tighten the grip on the match. Although India pulled one back through Jeje Lalpekhlua in the dying minutes, it proved to be nothing more than a consolation.
Watch: Kyrgyzstan 2-1 India highlights
Here’s how we rated the players from both sides from last evening’s encounter.
Pavel Matiash- 6.5
Matiash had a light shift compared to his counterpart. He could easily punch the ball clear or grab it over the short-statured Indian front duo of Jeje and Balwant. The 30-year-old custodian couldn’t finish the game with a clean sheet as Jeje surprised him with a header out of nowhere.
Avazbek Otkeyev- 6.5
Held a high position up the pitch to allow and to build attacking runs through the flanks. Otkeyev made some wayward but vital clearances to see off any threat. He had a good outing overall.
Azamat Baymatov- 6.0
Survived a controversial moment in the 17th minute as he controlled the ball with his hand just outside his own box and denied Jeje to break free. Although debatable, the referee showed him a yellow card. Apart from that, Baymatov was solid in his defensive duties and showed no mercy to the Indian frontrunners.
Bakhtiar Duyshobekov- 6.5
The centre-half put in a great performance and contained the Indian attacking duo with ease. He formed a formidable backline partnering skipper Baymatov. His performance also included an assist to Murzaev for the second goal. He was brought off in the 81st minute.
Kursanbek Sheratov- 7.0
The Kyrgyz full-back was right on the money, both offensively and defensively. He prevented Indian forwards to break free by blocking their moves up the pitch. Sheratov didn’t shy away from taking occasional long strides up the pitch; swung his foot at a few shots and lobbed in teasing balls inside the opposition box.
Farhat Musabekov- 6.0
The midfielder had an average game but enjoyed a possession rich gameplay. The young midfielder fired in some daring shots at the goal but failed to convert as the shots went wide. Gave away possession a few times but that didn’t cause any greater harm.
Kairat Zhyrgalbek Uulu- 6.5
Quick to begin proceedings, he caught Indian backline napping and took full advantage of it. He received a floating ball deep down from Baymatov and sent in a brilliant cross from the right flank for Zemlyanukhin to score. It was indeed an eye-opener for the visitors.
Edgar Bernhardt- 7.0
Bernhardt was the creator-in-chief for the hosts against the Blue Tigers. The Kyrgyz midfielder, also possessing German heritage, tested the Indian backline to the fullest. He created several chances that could have earned them a more convincing win at home.
Islam Shamshiev- 6.5
The 27-year-old midfielder was instrumental in working the ball around favourable positions, taking the attack to the opposition. Shamshiev’s anticipation and through balls caused India a bit of worry throughout the game. He fancied a few shots himself but couldn’t find the target.
Anton Zemlyanukhin- 7.5
It was Zemlyanukhin who caught the Indian backline completely off guard just in the second minute of the game. He blasted one past Gurpreet Singh Sandhu off a sharp cross sent in by Kairat from the right flank. India couldn’t believe they were already trailing in the game. In the 85th minute, he had to be stretchered off after pulling his calf muscle.
Mirlan Murzaev- 7.0
The Kyrgyz frontman was always on the radar and posed a constant threat to India. High pressing play from the opposition and pressure was piling up on India. Duyshobekov found a way to get the ball past the defence and Mirlan Murzaev ended his goal-drought in the 73th minute.
Pavel Sidorenko- NA
Came in for Farhat Musabekov in the 78th minute.
Tamirlan Kozbaev- NA
Replaced Bakhtiar Duyshobekov in the 81st minute.
Bekzhan Sagynbaev- NA
Replaced Anton Zemlyanukhin in the 85th minute.
The tall and sturdy custodian saved India from piling more misery. He was quick with his reflexes and saw India through without conceding more goals. However, Zemlyanukhin and Murzaev managed to outsmart the stand-in Indian skipper as the Kyrgyz Republic won the dead rubber 2-1.
Although a bit physical and rash on challenges, the Mizo defender had a good outing against the Kyrgyz Republic last night. He managed to trouble Edgar Bernhardt from breaking inside the box from the right flank and also managed to win back possession. Apart from the early second-minute gaffe which led to the first goal, he was agile, sharp and didn’t put a foot wrong.
Sandesh Jhingan– 6.5
The experienced centreback was made to work hard and sweat it out. Jhingan cleared the ball on several occasions when the Indians were facing the heat from the White Falcons. However, those efforts never managed to materialize as the homeside grinded out other ways to score.
Anas Edathodika– 6.0
To be honest and going by the result, Anas Edathodika had an average game. He managed to thwart off the attack on a few occasions and made some smart calls to get offside verdicts in India’s favour. However poor man-marking by the pair of centre halves cost India the decisive goal.
Narayan Das– 5.5
The defender was handed a start in Bishkek. However, Das didn’t live upto the coach’s expectations as Zemyalukhin and Shamshiev managed to get the better of him and broke inside the penalty box leading the Kyrgyz attack. He was replaced by Jerry Lalrinzuala after the interval.
Rowlin Borges– 7.0
Probably the best Indian midfielder of the night. Borges’ freekick rattled the woodwork in the 19th minute. The midfielder was the leader of the pack when it came to fueling up an attacking mindset. He committed himself more on the offensive half. Anirudh Thapa came in for Borges in the 85th minute.
Mohammed Rafique– 5.5
Rafique shared midfield duties alongside Rowllin Borges last evening. Looked sloppy at times, he was more on defensive duties and committed silly fouls on a few occasions. Khel Now’s take? He could have done much better; in a disciplined and organized way.
Udanta Singh– 5.5
The Manipuri wingman had an average outing as he was below his usual best. He rarely troubled the opposition defence and the homeside were quick to clear off any potential threat. He was replaced by Seiminlen Doungel in the 61st minute.
Balwant Singh– 5.5
Brought in as a replacement for the suspended Sunil Chhetri, Balwant failed to make the most of this opportunity. The Mumbai City FC forward gave his all but lack of communication and proper understanding with his striking partner could be seen as a reason of eluded success.
Holicharan Narzary– 6.0
After a disappointing season in the ISL, Narzary started the game on a slow note but showed a bit of revival later on. The Kyrgyz backline had to adjust every now and then to match his forward strides. He did fire in a couple of shots on target but straight to the keeper’s pouch. It was he who fed in a brilliant cross for Jeje to score after receiving the ball from Anirudh Thapa.
Jeje Lalpekhlua– 6.5
Fresh from a title winning domestic season, the Mizo sniper did not have the best of games. He had a tardy start to play and looked low in confidence up front. However, the Chennaiyin striker managed to open the account for India as he headed one off a delicate Holicharan Narzary cross from the left flank.
Jerry Lalrinzuala– 6.0
Managed to see off opposition attacks safely and didn’t panic in crucial moments.
Seminlen Doungel– 5.5
Coach Stephen Constantine brought in Len Doungel for Udanta Singh who had an off day by his standards. The like for like substitution didn’t make much of an impact as India kept searching haplessly for an equalizer. His shots were mostly wayward.
Anirudh Thapa– NA
Came in for Borges in the 85th minute. Made a crucial pass to Narzary a couple of minutes later, whose delightful cross was headed in by Jeje.