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52′ Narender         78′ Al Khatib


FULL-TIME ANALYSIS: The Blue Tigers end their campaign on a hopeful note, gaining their first and only points from the Intercontinental Cup 2019. India reminisced the strong defensive unit which conceded only four goals in the AFC Asian Cup earlier this year and even with a new unit, the players made a bright impression. Man of the Match Narender Gahlot scored his first goal in competitive football to mark his breakthrough, while Rahul Bheke remained an absolute rock in defence. Amarjit Singh Kiyam and Anirudh Thapa’s midfield partnership looked bright as ever, while Sahal Abul Samad also displayed his talent. Syria scuffed hard for a win, but weren’t able to break this strengthened Indian side and are knocked out off the Intercontinental Cup, with DPR Korea and Tajikistan all set to play in the final on Friday. Igor Stimac will now wait for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers draw tomorrow. We’ll bring you all the news from that tomorrow! For now, I’m Uttiyo Sarkar signing off for Khel Now. Thank You and Good Night, Ladies & Gentlemen!

90+4′ SO CLOSE! Syria almost get their win. Al-Khatib sends in a delightfull ball to Alshami, but the pass goes agonizingly wide of his reach. That is the end of their Intercontinental Cup campaign as well!

90+3′ Thapa does a great job in winning back the ball in his box and he shoots it up for Farukh to run at the Syria goal. However, Mohammad Fares does well to clear the ball to keep his side in the game. 

90+1′ Sunil Chhetri gets a standing ovation from the fans as he goes on, with Farukh Choudhary coming on to waste time. 

90′ Abdul Razzak Almohammad comes in for Khaled Kourdoughli. Meanwhile, four minutes of added time is announced. Can Syria scavenge a win?

89′ India make another substitution, as Sahal Abdul Samad goes off to a loud applause and Vinit Rai comes on for him. Meanwhile, another Thapa corner meets the head of a defender, but Bheke’s attempt is a weak one which goes out. 

87′ The visitors barge in a number of inviting crosses inside the box, but super clearances from Bheke and Kotal do well enough before a fourth consecutive cross is held onto by Gurpreet. 

84′ Al Khatib takes his time with the free-kick, but tries dipping it only for Gurpreet to tip it over. From the corresponding corner, Alshami rises the highest only to see his header go over. 

83′ Amarjit brings down Mohamad Alahmad just outside the box and is booked for that. Dangerous area to concede a free-kick! Meanwhile, Udanta is taken off for Manvir Singh. 

81′ Jerry escapes punishment once again! Al Khatib beats him inside the box, but he holds onto the Syrian captain’s shirt. Thankfully, the refere waves play on rather than giving another penalty. 

80′ Syria are looking a revitalized unit after the goal as Al Khatib again looks to make something happen when his powerful long-range tries is held onto by Gurpreet. 

78′ GOALL! AL KHATIB makes no mistake! He slowly strides forward and powers the ball past the diving Gurpreet. 1-1!

77′ PENALTY FOR SYRIA! Jerry brings down Alahmad inside the box with a poor challenge.

76′ Syria try to barge forward in numbers, as Al Khatib plays through Kourdoughli on the left. He sends in a cross into the box, but Alahmad’s header is well collected by Gurpreet. 

74′ Mohammad Fares’ header from a corner goes well wide. Meanwhile, Stimac makes the necessary change as Jerry Lalrinzuala comes in for Mandar Rao Dessai. 

72′ Syria’s frustrations are summed up in an unnecessary long-shot from Anaz which goes well wide. However, India have dominated more possession so far this half, recovering 52%  of the possession. 

70′ The Assyrians have looked a frustrated unit and struggling to get past he Indian defence. They need goals to get the win which gets them into the finals. Will they be able to pull of the comeback? Let us know in the comments..

68′ A horrible challenge from Mohammad Al Marmour gets him booked after Udanta completely tricked him with a clever skill. 

66′ Mandar Rao Dessai is down on the ground after picking up a knock. Jerry is warming up in the touchline and we might get to see a change here soon. 

64′ Narender does really well to stop a dangerous counter-attack by stopping Al Khatib on his tracks. Meanwhile, the Syrian captain gets booked after vehemently ranting at the referee. 

61′ Alahmad almost makes instant impact as he is found just inside the area by Ahmad Alahmad, but his shot is well wide of the target. 

60′ Syria make another substitution, with Amro Jeniat coming on for Youssef Al Hamwi. Fajer Ibrahim is definitely throwing in the kitchen sink for an equaliser. 

59′ Syria make their first substitution, with Tamer Hag Mohamad going off for Mohamad Alahmad.

58′ OH! Chhangte gets some space on the left, moving diagonally onto the middle. However, he sees Chhetri moving wide and passes him on his left, but the captain’s cut-back only finds the goalkeeper. 

55′ Al Marmour tries to curl the ball into the net, but sees his attempt go horribly wide of the target. 

54′ Syria almost fire back an instant response! A long-ball is won by Alahmad in a dual with Mandar as he skips past through to the box, but his low pass is cleared. Meanwhile, Syria get a free-kick from a dangerous area after a poor foul. 

52′ GOALLL!! NARENDER SCORES HIS FIRST GOAL FOR INDIA! Thapa sends in a beautiful corner kick and the youngster climbs the highest to score a powerful header into the Syrian net. 1-0!

50′ CLOSE! Chhetri does really well to shield the ball, dance past a few defenders and slide in a perfect pass to send Udanta through. He had almost three players free inside to pass to, but some great defending doesn’t allow him to do so. 

48′ Al Khatib plays in a decent ball into the box to Al Marmour, but Narender does well to shield the ball out before being brought down by the forward. 

46′ India get the second half started, attacking from the right to left now. 

8:55 PM: It’s been a decent half of football for India as compared to the other games. Here is our correspondent Waseem Zaidi’s player ratings so far. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu – 6.0 Pritam Kotal – 4.5 Narender Gahlot – 5.5 Rahul Bheke – 6.0 Mandar Rao Dessai – 5.0 Amarjit Singh Kiyam – 6.5 Sahal Abdul Samad – 6.0 Anirudh Thapa – 5.5 Udanta Singh – 6.0 Lallianzuala Chhangte – 5.0 Sunil Chhetri – 5.5

HALF-TIME ANALYSIS: Well, it’s the first time in the Intercontinental Cup that India haven’t conceded a goal in a half of football. The Blue Tigers have been solid with their defensive work, frustrating the Assyrians with a strong shape and rarely losing concentration. A few defensive hiccups invited trouble, but Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s intimidating figure has kept away trouble so far. Amarjit Singh and Anirudh Thapa have done well to protect their defence with their hard-working nature, while Rahul Bheke’s done a wonderful job with crucial challenges. Syria will come out firing on all cylinders to seal the victory which sends them onto the final in the second half, but India will want to sneak in a few goals to end their campaign on a bright note. We’ll be back with 2nd half action soon. Stay Tuned, Ladies and Gentlemen!

45+2′ India almost scrape in a final counter-attack when Amarjit flings in an inviting long-ball to send Udanta free, but the ball is cleared well to end the first-half! 

45′ Tamer Hag Mohamed is booked after pulling down Chhetri cynically to stop the counter-attack. Meanwhile, one minute of added time is announced for this relatively quiet first half. 

44′ Syria have a half-shout for a penalty after Khaled Kourdoghli is pushed down into the box by Narender. However, the referee waves play on to the relieve of the Blue Tigers. 

41′ The Blue Tigers have done a decent job of calming their nerves and controlling possession more as the game goes on, recording 47% possession so far. Stimac’s plan is  being executed somewhat precisely today. 

39′ Narender Galot becomes the first to receive a yellow-card after tugging Al Khatib’s shirt to stop a counter-attack. 

38′ The visitors get a free-kick just outside the box and Al Khatib shoots it low onto the pile of bodies, but Mahamed Anaz’s attempt goes well wide. 

36′ Syria clumsily try to work their way into the box and Mandar’s poor touch almost invites disaster, but Bheke expertly clears it. Seconds later, another chipped ball into the box is cleared out for a corner by the Bengaluru man. He’s been everywhere so far!

34′ Sahal shows a brilliant example of his skill by cheekily nudging past a Syrian midfielder, before passing Chhangte’s whose poor touch almost allows the visitors to counter. However, Narender does well to stop that outside his area. 

31′ OH! The Blue Tigers create their first real chance when Bheke plays in a great pass for Mandar to send Lallianzuala Chhangte through on goal. The winger’s shot is saved superbly by Amla, but the offside flag is out anyways so it wouldn’t have counted. 

29′ CLOSE! A long-ball from way off finds Al Khatib inside the box, but the striker’s toe-poke goes just wide of the target. Shocking defending from Narender there!

26′ Jerry Lalrinzuala and Rowllin Borges can be seen warming up in the sidelines. Mandar hasn’t really looked the most convincing with his work so far. Do you think Jerry should be brought in instead? Let us know in the comments below..

24′ GURPREET SAVES! Syria move through the right with Abdulla Alshamsi sending in a good cross which meets Al Marmour’s header, but Gurpreet holds onto it comfortably with a super dive. 

22′ Udanta is again the person of interest when it comes to creating a chance for India. Kotal sends in a decent through ball to him, but Alma makes sure the ball goes back. Meanwhile, chants of Vande Mataram can be heard echoing over the EKA Arena with the Blue Pilgrims making their voice heard. 

20′ The Blue Tigers have recorded 12 clearances in the first 15 minutes of the game. It seems Stimac really worked on the defensive aspect as his side is looking more mobile and concentrated to make things difficult for the visitors. 

18′ Anirudh Thapa finally gets the ball at the heart of midfield and slings in a stylish cross-field long ball which ends up going to Alma. He doesn’t look happy and surely needs to do better!

15′ The Blue Tigers are struggling to take control of the game as Syria continue dominating possession. Meanwhile, Stimac is on the touchline trying to give his players some instruction on how to keep the visitors restrained. 

13′ OOH! Captain Firas Al Khatib speeds in and absolutely punches the ball powerfully, but it’s way wide of the target as the diving Gurpreet sees it go out. 

12′ Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s weak clearance falls just to a Syrian midfielder, who plays the ball to Al Marmour, who is barged down with a crunching tackle from Rahul Bheke. Freekick from a dangerous area. 

9′ Pritam Kotal is clearly being targetted by the Assyrians as they try to create chances. They’ve gone past a few Indian defenders, but the Blue Tigers have done decently to clear any danger so far. 

6′ CLOSE! It’s that man Udanta again who goes through the right wing and sends in a brilliant low cross, but the ball just goes past Chhetri’s reach! Great move!

5′ Sahal Abdul Samad does really well to close down a defender and steal the ball on the right, before sending Udanta through onto the box. He skips past one defender, but the ball deflects over him to Ibrahim Alma.

3′ A long-kick from Gurpreet Singh Sandhu meets the head of Sunil Chhetri to Udanta Singh on the right. The Bengaluru winger darts past his man, but his delivery isn’t good enough. Meanwhile, Syria also go very close as Mohammad Al Marmour darts past Pritam Kotal through the left onto the goal, but his shot is a disappointing one well wide of the mark. 

1′ AND WE KICKOFF! Syria start the proceedings, attacking from the right to left.

7:55 PM: The teams are now coming out to the field before kick-off. We’ll have some pre-match rituals, including the national anthems before the action begins. Stay tuned, Ladies and Gentlemen!

7:50 PM: This is obviously going to be India’s final game before the FIFA World Cup qualifiers which start in September. The Blue Tigers will want to give a strong presentation of their ability and prove their growing confidence before the big task. Meanwhile, the draw for the World Cup qualifiers is tomorrow and we Khel Now will keep you up to date on everything which goes on!

7:45 PM: There’s apparently a health issue for many members of the squad. There are rumours about many players suffering from food poisoning going around. As if this sombre tournament couldn’t end on an even more disappointing note for some!

7:40 PM: For the visitors, the equation is pretty simple. Get a win and jump over DPR Korea to the finals against Tajikistan. North Korea, on the other hand, will need India to defeat or at least hold the West Asians to a draw to qualify for the finale. Despite it being an inconsequential encounter for the hosts, the game still holds much leverage on deciding the finalists. 

7:35 PM: Igor Stimac is yet to get his first win in India, having seen his side lose both the games in the Intercontinental Cup so far. He’ll want his side to salvage some pride for the faithful who have packed the stands to cheer them on and end their campaign on a high with some thrilling, attacking football which he’s promised. 

7:30 PM: The visitors have their fair share of supporters in the EKA Arena tonight. Our correspondent Rutvij Joshi says that on the contrary to the other match-days, the Syrian fans are making noise to revitalize their unit today. Maybe the atmosphere won’t be so kind to the Blue Tigers today after all!

7:25 PM: The Blue Tigers boast a favourable head-to-head record against Syria, having won three out of the five games taken place between the two nations. The infamous Nehru Cup final win in 2007 remains the most memorable, but the boys today will need to pull off something special to defeat the focused West Asian giants, who are craving a win to make the finals themselves. 

7:20 PM: The place of concern for Igor Stimac remains the defensive area, which has again demanded a forced shuffle due to some injury issues. The inexperienced duo of Rahul Bheke and Narender Galot will be caused problems by Al Khatib and co, while Mandar Rao Dessai’s also been granted another opportunity to redeem himself after a horror-show against Tajikistan. 

7:15 PM: The youthful midfield of Amarjit, Thapa and Sahal have been given the nod to take the game to the powerhouse Asians by Stimac. The three displayed impressive chemistry against Korea and Tajikistan, but need to bring their A-game to give the fans some joy in India’s final game in the tournament. The Blue Tigers are fielded in a 4-2-3-1 formation tonight, while a similar shape is also expected from the visitors. 

7:10 PM: Igor Stimac makes eight changes to the side which lost to DPR Korea on Saturday. Adil Khan and Sandesh Jhingan don’t make the squad after the latter suffered and injury and the former suspended, while Udanta Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Sahal Abdul Samad and Lallianzuala Chhangte all return to the starting XI after impressive second-half performances against North Korea. Syria make four changes, with experienced captain Firas Al Khatib returning to the starting XI. 

7:05 PM: Here are the team news for India’s final match in the Intercontinental Cup!

India XI: Gurpreet(GK), Kotal, Bheke, Narender, Mandar, Thapa, Sahal, Amarjit, Chhangte, Udanta, Chhetri(C)

India Subs: Amrinder(GK), Kamaljit(GK), Jerry, Vinit, Rowllin, Brandon, Manvir, Farukh, Justin.

Syria XI: Alma(GK), Alshami, Al Hamwi, Al Arnaout, Anaz, Alslamh, Kourdoghli, Al Marmour, A. Alahmad, Mohamad, AlKhatib(C).

Syria Subs: Ibrahim(GK), Othman(GK) Abouzenab, Jeniat, Al Mohammad, M. Alahmad, Hasan.

Also Read: Is Sahal-Amarjit the midfield partnership Indian football team desperately needs?

7:00 PM- Hello everyone! It is a wonderful atmosphere at the EKA Arena by TransStadia in Ahmedabad and the Indian National Team is all set to face Syria in their final game of the Hero Intercontinental Cup 2019. The weather is near to perfect and spectators are coming in to experience the game. This is your host Uttiyo Sarkar, and I hope you enjoy the game with me.

Match Preview: India vs Syria Preview: Can the Blue Tigers eke out a win against the West Asian nation?