Hero Intercontinental Cup 2019: India deny Syria a place in the final after 1-1 draw


India denied Syria a place in the final of the Hero Intercontinental Cup 2019 after holding the Assyrians to a 1-1 draw at the EKA Arena in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.

18-year-old Narender Gahlot scored in his second international match as India took the lead in the 52nd minute before Syria captain Firas Al Khatib scored from the penalty spot 12 minutes away from full time.

But that goal wasn’t enough for Syria as they had to defeat India to qualify for the final. Instead, it will be Tajikistan who will take on DPR Korea for the honours in the final in three days’ time.

Syria came out of the blocks flying when Mohammad Al Marmour escaped his full back and got inside the box before firing his effort wide in the third minute under pressure from the advancing Indian goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

The Blue Tigers also went close three minutes later when Udanta Singh made some space at the edge fo the box and crossed it in across the goal which was missed by close margins by Sahal Abdul Samad and Sunil Chhetri.

Syria skipper Al Khatib came alive around the half-hour mark when he brought long ball under his control inside the box, turned centre-back Gahlot, and fired an effort which flew inches wide of the target.

Syria looked to be growing into the game as the half time approached, but it was the hosts who who opened the scoring in the 52nd minute through a thumping header from their 18-year-old defender Gahlot from an Anirudh Thapa corner.

However, Syria came back into the game when Jerry Lalrinzuala fouled Ahmad Al Ahmad inside the box and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Veteran Al Khatib made no mistake from the spot as Syria restored parity.

But, Syria’s hopes of making it to the final by scoring another goal did not come to fruition as India put on one of the better displays under their new Croatian coach Igor Stimac to hold on to the 1-1 draw.

The result means that Tajikistan will face DPR Korea in the final of the second Intercontinental Cup at the EKA Arena on July 19.

(Photo courtesy: All India Football Federation)