Dubai [UAE], October 28 (ANI): India was on the receiving end of a 0-1 defeat by hosts UAE in their second match of the AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers at the Fujairah Stadium in Dubai on Wednesday.
Incidentally, both of the Group E encounters ended in a similar fashion on the night. Oman got the better of Kyrgyz Republic thanks to a late penalty like the hosts UAE, who pipped India owing to an 82nd-minute spot-kick by Abdulla Idrees.
Igor Stimac made only one change to the team that got a 2-1 win against Oman in their previous game, having brought in Lalengmawia at the expense of Aniket Jadhav to make the midfield more compact against UAE. The hosts went 1-2 down against the Kyrgyz Republic in their first outing of the qualifying campaign, three days back.
Both the teams started with a safety-first approach before Rahim Ali squeezed in to make room for himself in the six-yard-box, but before he could connect to the long throw-in by Asish, UAE goalkeeper Suhail Abdulla Almutawa collected the ball calmly.
Before the clock struck the half-hour mark, India launched back-to-back attacks but the opponents dealt with them to cut the scorer out of the equation.
Ten minutes to the end of the regulation time, the hosts earned a penalty as Suresh brought Ali Saleh down inside the box. Defender Abdulla Idrees broke the deadlock from the spot-kick to hand UAE a crucial lead in the 82nd minute.
Suresh looked for the perfect atonement three minutes later as he picked up a stray ball on the edge of the opposition area, but his shot from outside the box went over the cross-bar. Stimac threw in Rohit Danu and Aniket Jadhav towards the end but the UAE defenders held their nerves to leave the ground with all three points.
Following the second match day, all the four teams are locked on three points each, with identical goal differences. The group topper will qualify for the finals in Uzbekistan next year, whereas four best runner-up nations will also join them. Hosts UAE will lock horns with Oman before India face-off with the Kyrgyz Republic at the same venue on Saturday. (ANI)