India extended their unbeaten streak to 11 games and now sit atop the group stepping closer to qualification as they overcame a resilient Macau side, thanks to two second-half goals by substitute Balwant Singh. They now host Macau and Myanmar before travelling to Kyrgyzstan to end the group stage.
He made three changes to the side that faced Saint Kitts and Nevis in a friendly last month as the crowd saw Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh and goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu taking their places ahead replacing Balwant Singh, Jackichand Singh and Subrata Pal.
Despite being dominant throughout the first half, India could hardly manage to get a shot on target with their best chance coming in the 35th minute when midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh saw his fantastic long-range effort hit the cross bar. It fell kindly to India and the
Macau kept defending deep leaving India to exploit space on their flanks, which kept India’s full-backs Kotal and Narayan Das in the offensive for most of the game as they virtually played the winger’s role. However, Jeje found himself in the box mostly alone with neither Chhetri nor Udanta making runs behind him.
Narzary and Udanta, who rely heavily on pace and against a deep defending side, looked toothless. Constantine brought on Balwant Singh in place of Lyngdoh as India tried to break Macau’s defence by bombarding crosses through the full-backs. And in the 52 minute, from a Narayan Das’ cross, Singh managed to squeeze between two defenders and head the ball in.
The gridlock was broken and Macau hardly had the firepower up front to level the score. They kept their negative football intact and if not for a horrible mix-up between their defence and goalkeeper in the 82 minute, the score could have stayed the same. A clinical Singh didn’t miss the opportunity this time taking his goal tally to three in as many games.