Early goals from Chhangte and Sahal hand India a 2-0 win over Mongolia

Lallianzuala Chhangte scored a goal for India against Mongolia

India started their Intercontinental Cup 2023 on a high note as they beat Mongolia 2-0 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. Goals from Sahal Abdul Samad and Lallianzuala Chhangte inside the first fifteen minutes of the match were enough for the hosts to pick up a win.

India started the match in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Amrinder Singh donning the gloves. Nikhil Poojary and Akash Mishra played as the full-backs while Sandesh Jhingan and Anwar Ali were positioned in the heart of the defense. 

Lalengmawia Ralte and Anirudh Thapa played as the two defensive midfielders ahead of the back four. The trio of Sahal Abdul Samad, Lallianzuala Chhangte, and Udanta Singh played as the three attacking midfielders entrusted to feed balls to captain Sunil Chhetri. 

India was awarded a corner in the 2nd minute when Udanta bombarded down the right flank and earned the last touch of a rival defender. The Mongolian keeper got a hand to Thapa’s corner-kick but Sahal pounced on the rebound to bury the ball into the net. 

India continued attacking from the wings and nearly got another goal in the 11th minute when Nikhil’s back pass towards Lalengmawia saw the latter unleash a shot from a distance only for it to sail wide. 

In the 14th minute, Jhingan towered above his marker to head home a corner kick. The Mongolian defenders fluffed in clearing their lines and Chhangte slammed the ball home from point-blank range. 

Udanta was tripped inside the box in the 17th minute but the referee decided against awarding India a penalty. India continued to stay on the ascendancy for the rest of the first half but the Mongolian defenders managed to successfully clear their lines. 

In the 40th minute, Akash Mishra’s cross from the left flank found Chhetri inside the box. The captain set it up for Sahal to take a shot but his effort was high. 

India and Mongolia players pose for photos before their match

The humid conditions in Bhubaneswar made it tough for both teams to attack in the second half. The intensity of the game slowed down with the defenders clearing their lines on more occasions than not and teams struggling to complete short passes. 

India found the back of the net in the 55th minute through Thapa. However, Chhangte’s run in the build-up of play was flagged offside. Sahal combined well with Udanta a minute later. However, the latter’s shot ballooned over the crossbar. 

In the 61st minute, Chhangte’s cross from inside the box found Thapa but his header was off target. In the 83rd minute, Thapa was once again in the midst of the action as his cross from a free-kick found Rohit Kumar. However, the substitute’s header hit the woodwork. 

It remained the final eventful shot of the game as India emerged as 2-0 winners in the competition. Earlier in the day, Lebanon beat Vanuatu 3-1 to kickstart the tournament on a winning note. 

The Blue Tigers will square off against Vanuatu on Monday in the evening kickoff game. A win in that match will most likely seal a place for India in the final. Igor Stimac, on the other hand, would want his side to improve on his finishing. If India struggles to score goals against a team ranked 183, they would find it tougher against their opponents in the AFC Asian Cup.