Scrappy India go down 1-2 to Kyrgyzstan in AFC Challenge Cup
Colombo: Holders India paid the price for their defending lapse, goalkeeping error and profligacy by their strikers as they went down 1-2 to a 10-man Kyrgyzstan in their opening match of the AFC Challenge Cup football tournament.
The under-23 Indian boys let in two goals before the breather, mainly due to their own errors and then missed quite a good number of chances in the second half which they dominated in their Group B match at Sugathadasa Stadium.
India felt the absence of SAFF Cup hero, goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya, as custodian Karanjit Singh failed to hold Kyrgyz midfielder Sergey Kaleutin`s low shot from the edge of the box and striker Ildar Amirov fired into the unguarded net in the 15th minute.
Kyrgyzstan striker Zemlianuhin Anton doubled the lead in the 33rd minute as he capitalised on a defensive lapse by the Indians.
Dharmaraj Ravanan unnecessarily had tried for an off-side trap and allowed the Kyrgyz striker to surge ahead without challenge before he calmly beat Karanjit.
Kyrgyzstan were reduced to 10 men a minute after the restart as Bahraini referee Nawaf Shukralla awarded a direct red card to midfielder and captain Aibek Bokoev for elbowing Baljit Sahni.
India reduced the margin in the 59th minute with Denzil Franco converting from the spot after Kyrgyz defender Rustem Usanov handled a bouncing ball inside the box.