The Indian football team on Wednesday thrashed Macau 4-1 and booked their seats in UAE 2019 AFC Asian Cup.This is only the fourth time in Asian Cup history that India will be making an appearance. India had finished runners-up to Israel in 1964 after which they played in the 1984 tournament held in Singapore. India then qualified for the tournament only in 2011. The gap of 27 years is the longest any team have had in tournament history. India then fell out of contention for the 2015 tournament and have now made it to the 2019 edition to be held in the UAE.

Rowllin Borges opened the scoring for India with a fine right-footed volley in the 28th minute. Jeje Lalpekhlua sent a sensational pass to midfielder Borges, struck hard for the opening goal.Skipper Sunil Chhetri restored the lead, after the hosts conceded one, with a strike in the 60th minute, while Macau conceded an own goal in the 70th minute to dig their own grave at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.The fourth goal was scored by Jeje Lalpekhlua after being assisted by Chhetri.

For Macau, Nicholas Tarrao scored in the 37th minute.They have not conceded any goal in their past three games. The goal they conceded in Bengaluru was also the first that they had conceded in the third round so far.They are the only team at this stage to have maintained a clean sheet in all their matches. India are ranked 75 places above Macau and had defeated them in their own home 2-0 and so, it is clear that the hosts are the favourites.

The coach Stephen Constantine referred to the victory as a “terrific team effort over anything else.” “We achieved our goal tonight to qualify for Asian Cup. I’m immensely proud of my team. They have followed my manners, my demands. They’ve gone through anything and everything like the tough training regime, rigorous pressure and at the end of the day, they have delivered,” said the Englishman.

India skipper Sunil Chhetri sounded pretty calm but resolute at the post-match press conference and said, “We have achieved our target but we should keep our heads down and keep on working hard to finish first in the group.”

India have ensured qualification with two more matches left. They are atop Group A with 12 points from four matches.They play Myanmar on November 24 and Kyrgyzstan on March 27 next year.

In the 2011 edition that was held in Doha, India lost all their group matches to Australia, South Korea and Bahrain.

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