Dheeraj's shootout heroics secure 2nd Group E spot for India in AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qualifiers

Image Source: ANI

Dubai [UAE], October 31 (ANI): Goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh’s heroics under the woodwork did wonders for India as India had their best-ever finish in the AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qualifiers to date.

India’s final qualifying match against the Kyrgyz Republic ended in a stalemate at the Fujairah Stadium on Saturday.

As the match between India and the Kyrgyz Republic ended in a stalemate, both sides finished the group on four points apiece, with the same goal difference (zero), and equal number of goals scored in all the matches (2). To decide who takes the second and third spots, respectively, in Group E, a penalty shootout was held, which India won 4-2.

Earlier, UAE beat Oman 2-0 to end as the toppers of Group E in the AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qualifiers.

In the penalty shootout, Dheeraj started with a couple of spectacular saves while Rahul KP, Rohit Danu, Suresh Singh, and Rahim Ali scored from the spot.

India coach Igor Stimac made only one change to the starting XI from the previous game, handing Amarjit Singh his first start in this campaign as he replaced Jeakson Singh in the middle of the park.

With both teams tied on the same number of points, goal difference, and goals scored, the match went into a penalty shootout to decide who finishes second and third, respectively, in Group E.

Dheeraj made a couple of scintillating saves in the penalty shoot-out before Rahim Ali scored the winning spot-kick to elevate India to the second position in the group.

India U-23 XI: Dheeraj Singh; Asish Rai, Narender Gahlot, Deepak Tangri, Akash Mishra (Sumit Rathi 79′); Vikram Partap Singh (Bryce Miranda 88′), Suresh Singh, Lalengmawia, Amarjit Singh (Rohit Danu 67′), Rahul KP; Rahim Ali. (ANI)

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