IANS

The Indian men’s football team lost to Iraq 5-4 in a penalty shootout after the semifinal match ended at 2-2 at the 700th Anniversary Stadium, here on Thursday.

With the score level at 2-2 after the regulation time, the teams went into the penalty shootout as there is provision for no extra time in the tournament. Naorem Mahesh (17’) scored the opening goal for India while the other was accounted for through Jalal Hassan Hachim’s own goal (51’) in regulation time. 

However, Brandon Fernandes missed the spot-kick opportunity as India suffered its eighth loss in eight meetings against Iraq.

The 99th rank Indian football team came into the tournament without its charismatic skipper Sunil Chhetri, who opted out for personal reasons. 

The Indian defense, led by veteran centre-back Sandesh Jinghan, stayed defensive till the quarter of the game as the 70th-ranked Iraq team continuously attacked through the Indian Pole.

After the first half ended at 1-1, India stepped ahead and attacked the Iraq goal after Jalal Hassan Hachem made a mess of a shot from India’s Manvir Singh and conceded an own goal.

Just 10 minutes before the final whistle, Iraq drew a penalty after Aymen Hussein was fouled in the box by the Indian defenders, and the score levelled 2-2.

Although India drew numerous opportunities but failed to make it count as the match headed into the dreaded penalty shootouts.

In the tiebreaker, Brandon Fernandes hit the post as Iraq won it with the final score of 5-4.

The Indian men’s football team will next play the second losing semifinalists from the match between hosts Thailand and Lebanon in the third-place match on Sunday.

India won a bronze medal when they last played in the King’s Cup in 2019 against Thailand with a 1-0 scoreline losing to Curacao in the semifinals.

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