Iran beats India on and off the field
Bengaluru: India crashed to their third successive defeat in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers as Iran routed a sloppy Indian team at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Tuesday, September 8.
Not only was India beaten easily on the pitch, the Iranian fans got the better of their Indian counterparts off it as well. Iran’s proud fan base turned up in huge numbers creating a carnival atmosphere at the stadium. Over 3000 Iranian fans filled the East and West lower stands of the stadium.
The fans got their money’s worth as Iran turned in a clinical performance to extinguish India’s faint hopes of progressing in the FIFA World Cup Qualification. Serdar Azmoun, touted as the ‘Iranian Messi’, opened the scoring with a very un-Messi like goal in the 29th minute, taking advantage of an indirect free kick. The score remained 1-0 until half time with Iran largely untroubled by a disjointed Indian team that was fighting hard to keep up with Iran’s pace and movement.
The second half began with Iran capitalising on further Indian mistakes with Andranik Teymourian and Mehdi Taremi scoring a quick fire double to quash any chance of an Indian comeback. Iran had further chances to stretch the lead with former Wolfsburg and Fulham attacker Ashkan Dejagah coming close for the away side but the score remained 3-0.
Amid Hemati, an Iranian national living in Bangalore was optimistic of Iran qualifying for the World Cup, “Iran is a young team with good up and coming players. We did well at the World Cup last year, especially against Argentina when Messi scored in the last minute. Now the coach (Carlos Queiroz) is playing more of the younger players. Mehdi Taremi and Serdar Azmoun are talents to watch out for”.
The Indian contingent was however left deflated after the performance but to their credit, the fans stayed on and supported the team till the final whistle even though the game was virtually over in the 51st minute. Before the game, Bengaluru FC fans unfurled a huge banner thanking Indian captain Sunil Chhetri for his contribution to Indian football. Chhetri acknowledged the gesture in a tweet after the game –“Also cannot tell you amazing fans of @WestBlockA_BFC how much that massive banner meant. These are things I will always treasure”.
The win takes Iran to the top of Group D in the Asian Qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup while India remains rooted to the bottom, yet to open its account. Having lost to Oman and Guam already, India’s faint hopes of progressing in the qualifiers seem over already.
Edited by Sakhi Todi