Football

FIFA WC Qualifiers: Should Have Beaten India In First Leg Too - Afghanistan Coach

Ashley Westwood also said that being the coach of Afghanistan presents several logistical challenges as players are scattered across at least 16 countries, who have to be brought together for training in a very short span of time

All India Football Federation
India suffered a serious jolt when they went down to Afghanistan 1-2 on Tuesday. Photo: All India Football Federation
info_icon

Chuffed after his rag-tag team shocked India in their own backyard in a World Cup qualifying match here, Afghanistan football coach Ashley Westwood asserted that the visiting side was "always the dominant" one and should have won even the first leg game which ended in a draw. (More Football News)

India went down 1-2 against the resolute Afghans on Tuesday night, marking an embarrassing day for the sport in the country. The home team's solitary goal came from a penalty conversion by veteran striker Sunil Chhetri.

"We remained confident even when we were trailing. To be honest, we also could have won the earlier match. We were always the dominant side in the match," Westwood said referring to the first leg clash in Abha, Saudi Arabia which ended in a goalless draw.

"It was unlucky at 0-0 in the last game. We could have won that if we took our chances. I was not under pressure at 1-0 at half-time because I knew we would score. I never felt pressured because I always believed in the boys and I am glad we got the result," he added.

Rahmat Akbari (71') and Sharif Mukhammad (88') scored for the Afghans on Tuesday, giving the side a victory that would be cherished for a long time. Westwood said that being the coach of Afghanistan presents several logistical challenges as players are scattered across at least 16 countries, who have to be brought together for training in a very short span of time.

The Afghans have been a disorganized bunch as most of their players compete and stay outside the country. A few of them are also regulars in the Indian Super League here. They were recently locked in a bitter pay dispute with their football association that led to a strike by 18 players before the World Cup qualifiers, significantly weakening the team and limiting Westwood's options.

"...it's a logistical nightmare and then we had to prepare to play against India, a very good side. They were ranked 102 a few months ago, 117 now and not sure where they will be after that," Westwood, who has coached Bengaluru FC in the past, said.

India coach Igor Stimac is drawing a lot of flak for the debacle here but he has refused to step down, insisting that he is continues to be on a mission till June. Westwood said the Croat is doing his best.

"I would never analyse what they have done...I won't disrespect because he has done a fantastic job in his five years. People may criticise him for this result, but he's a good coach and has proven that in his five-year reign and improved the Indian side," he said.

The Indian football team will play the final two matches of its second round World Cup qualifying campaign against Kuwait and Qatar in June.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement