THE INDIAN NATIONAL TEAM took on NorthEast United in a friendly practice match at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex, Guwahati.
The match was organized help the Blue Tigers prepare for their upcoming World Cup Qualifier match against Bangladesh. NorthEast United, in turn, also wanted to get a good knock in ahead of their Indian Super League 2019-20 campaign.
The first goal of the match came from Sunil Chhetri who scored off a fast counter. Just before half-time, NEUFC's Ghanaian striker Asomah Gyan found the equalizer the host club. At the break, the scoreline was 1-1.
In the second half, national team head coach Igor Stimac completely changed the playing eleven, and a more conservative gameplay unfolded. Near the 70th minute, Subhashish Bose found the net with a header but the linesman had his flag up; in the end the match ultimately ended in a 1-1 draw.
One bad outcome from this match, however, was that defender Sandesh Jhingan suffered an injury and could not continue. After diagnosis, it was announced that he would have to be out of action for many months. This is a big blow to the Indian defence at a critical stage during the World Cup Qulalifiers, and the second time an injury at a practice match has forced Jhingan out of action. Ahead of the Intercontinental Cup, Sandesh suffered an injury in Mumbai at a match between India Blue and India White. As a result, he was forced to sit out for a couple of months.
The match was open to spectators and thousands of local fans turned up to catch their local club and national team in action. This is the first time the national team has taken on an Indian club in a friendly match since they played Bengaluru FC in 2013. Igor Stimac, five months into his tenure as the head coach, has already organized 3 friendlies for the national team to prepare them for competitive matches.
The team will now fly to Kolkata where they will continue their preparations before they take on Bangladesh in a FIFA World Cup / Asian Cup qualifier clash on 15th October.