Centurion Chhetri sparks India past Kenya


India captain Sunil Chhetri (L) vies for the ball during the Hero Intercontinental Cup football ...
India captain Sunil Chhetri (L) vies for the ball during the Hero Intercontinental Cup football match between India and Kenya in Mumbai on June 4, 2018. India's football international against Kenya on June 4 was sold out in hours following captain Sunil Chhetri's emotional plea for fans to support the team after barely 2,500 people turned up to watch them play last week. / AFP PHOTO / PUNIT PARANJPE

In Summary

  • The national team Harambee Stars suffered their second defeat under coach Sebastien Migne as they slumped to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of India at a rain-swept Mumbai Football Arena
  • Indian captain Sunil Chhetri marked his 100th appearance for the national team in memorable fashion as he notched a brace to spark the resounding victory that took them top of the Hero Intercontinental Cup table

The national team Harambee Stars suffered their second defeat under coach Sebastien Migne as they slumped to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of India at a rain-swept Mumbai Football Arena.

Indian captain Sunil Chhetri marked his 100th appearance for the national team in memorable fashion as he notched a brace to spark the victory that took them top of the Hero Intercontinental Cup table.

Striker Jeje Lalpekhlua also had a goal sandwiched between Chhetri’s second half double to lift the hosts to their second win in as many matches at the four-nation tournament.

The match had sold out in hours following Chhetri’s impassioned plea for fans to support the team after barely 2,500 people turned up to watch them play when they spanked Chinese Taipei 5-0 in their opener last week.

Chhetri rewarded the home fans by showing up on the pitch himself and much to the disgust of Harambee Stars, scoring the opener from the spot before wrapping the victory in stoppage time after Lalpekhlua had doubled their advantage in the 72nd.

The wet conditions made life difficult for both the teams in the opening minutes, with neither able to create any real attacking threat and went to the break on level pegging.

Ovella Ochieng, who scored Kenya’s winner over New Zealand, should have put Migne’s men ahead after the restart only to shoot wide after an cutting through the Indian defence.

A four-minute lapse allowed India to find the breakthrough courtesy of Chhetri before Lalpekhlua put them two to the good.

Chhetri then took the game beyond Stars’ reach with a fine lob past keeper Patrick Matasi in the second minute of added time for his 61st international goal in 100 matches.

Kenya, who defeated New Zealand 2-1 in their opener on Saturday, will next play Chinese Taipei on Friday where a win for them will guarantee them a playoff rematch with India.

India finish off their group assignments with a match against New Zealand on Thursday, with the tournament serving as part of the hosts’ preparations for 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

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Story By Matthews Mutai
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