India surrender 1-2 to Guam in World Cup qualifiers

Guam, June 16 (IANS) India lost their second consecutive 2018 World Cup qualifying match, going down 1-2 against Pacific islanders Guam, a country ranked 33 places behind them in the world football rankings, here on Tuesday.

It was World No.141 India’s second match of the second round of qualifiers, while Guam collected their second win from as many matches. Guam earlier defeated Turkmenistan 1-0.

India, Guam, Oman, Iran and Turkmenistan are in Group D for the preliminary league with the top two finishers progressing to the next phase of the competition.

India head coach Stephen Constantine kept faith in the same starting eleven who played in the 1-2 loss against Oman last Thursday in Bengaluru. But he was let down by a poor performance from the Indians who were simply not able to cope up with the islanders quick, pacy brand of football.

Guam took the lead in the 38th minute through a Brandon McDonald goal off a long throw-in and went into the break preserving the lead at the Guam Football Association Stadium.

Constantine replaced his central midfielders Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Sehnaj Singh with Cavin Peter Lobo and Dhanapal Ganesh after the breather to get a foothold in the game, but to scant effect.

Guam dominated the ball possession, forcing India to chase the game aimlessly and lofting the ball high and long hoping their strikers would get at the end of it whenever they got hold of the ball.

It made Guam’s task easier and they capitalised on it and doubled their lead in the 61st minute through Travis Nicklaw.

It fairly sealed the fate of the match though striker Sunil Chhteri, his 50th and the first Indian to achieve the feat, reduced the scoreline in the third minute of added time to provide some consolation.

“We are disappointed. Today the difference was very much visible between a group of players who have the best football education and the rest,” Constantine said after the match.

“As many as 75 percent of the players who represented Guam have been born and brought up in the US and that made a huge difference,” the Englishman added.

“We lacked football intelligence in key moments of the game and that cost us.”

India face Iran on September 8 in Bengaluru.

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