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India makes history by reaching round of 16 in Asian Games football

The Indian men’s football team has achieved a historic feat by qualifying for the round of 16 in the Asian Games for the first time since 2010. The Blue Tigers drew 1-1 with Myanmar in their final group A match at the Xiaoshan Sports Centre Stadium on Sunday, September 24, 2023.

Chhetri scores again to give India the lead

India’s captain and star striker Sunil Chhetri continued his impressive form in the tournament by scoring his second goal in as many games. He converted a penalty in the 23rd minute after Rahul KP was fouled inside the box by a Myanmar defender. Chhetri, who had scored the winner against Bangladesh in the previous game, calmly slotted the ball past the goalkeeper to give India a 1-0 lead.

Myanmar equalizes in the second half

The Indian team looked comfortable with their lead until the 65th minute, when Myanmar found the equalizer through a header by Kyaw Ko Ko. The Myanmar forward rose above the Indian defence to nod in a cross from the right wing. The goal stunned the Indian players and fans, who feared that their hopes of advancing to the next round might be dashed.

India makes history by reaching round of 16 in Asian Games football

India holds on to secure a historic spot

However, the Indian team showed great resilience and determination to hold on to their draw and secure four points from three games. They finished second in their group behind China, who had seven points. Myanmar also had four points, but India had a better goal difference and more goals scored. Bangladesh ended up at the bottom of the group with one point.

The draw meant that India qualified for the round of 16 for the first time since 2010, when they had reached the quarterfinals. This is also the first time that India has qualified for the knockout stage of a major tournament under coach Igor Stimac, who took charge in May 2023.

India to face Saudi Arabia in the round of 16

India will now face Saudi Arabia, who finished second in group B behind Iran, in the round of 16 on Wednesday, September 27, 2023. Saudi Arabia beat Vietnam 3-1 in their last group game to secure their spot. India will have to overcome a tough challenge from the West Asian side, who have won three gold medals and one silver medal in the Asian Games football history.

The Indian team will be hoping to continue their dream run and create more history by reaching the quarterfinals for the second time ever. The fans and experts have praised the team for their performance and spirit in the tournament so far.

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