Igor Stimac’s India registered their first win in their FIFA World Cup qualifying group by beating Bangladesh 2-0 at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Monday.
Despite dominating the majority of the first half, India were unable to break down the gutsy Bangladesh defence. Chinglensana Singh came close to opening the scoreline in the 35th minute but his header was cleared off the line. In the second half, India upped the ante and finally found their reward through their captain Sunil Chhetri in the 79th minute, who scored off a glancing header.
The 36-year-old striker doubled his tally in the injury time with a deft finish with his right foot. With their first victory in 11 matches, the Blue Tigers now have six points from seven matches in Group E and kept their hopes alive of guaranteeing an automatic berth in the third round of the AFC 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers.
The 36-year-old Chhetri is only behind Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo in the active international goalscorers list.
Former Iran star Ali Daei tops the all-time list with 109 goals from 149 matches.
“He’s now got more than Messi! Sunil Chhetri’s double earns the Blue Tigers a 2-0 win in a WCQ and moves him on to 74 international goals — above Lionel Messi and one-off entering world football’s all-time top 10,” tweeted the official account of Fifa World Cup.
India’s last victory in World Cup qualifiers was a 1-0 result against Guam in November 2015 in Bangalore.
India is already out of contention for a berth in next year’s World Cup but remains in the reckoning for a 2023 Asian Cup.