Hangzhou [China], September 28 (ANI): India's men's football team's Asian Games campaign ended on a bitter note following two quick second-half strikes by Marram Mohammed as the Blue Tigers went down 0-2 to Saudi Arabia in their Round of 16 encounter on Thursday.
India kicked off the game with a touch of physicality. Igor Stimac had previously stressed the importance of fighting it out on the pitch and it was no surprise to see the Blue Tigers putting their bodies on the line and relying on the counterattack approach to surprise their opponents.
Despite holding possession for large periods of the first half, Saudi Arabia didn't really have too many clear-cut chances on the Indian goal.
India had their first chance of the game in the 14th minute, with skipper Sunil Chhetri becoming the architect as cut through three Saudi players before a lucky bounce presented him with a chance to shoot at goal from outside the box. His shot however went straight into the hands of the keeper.
Saudi Arabia started to press higher and every clearance or the loose ball was immediately taken into their control. The Indian team had to spend most of the first half in their own area and the first half ended goalless.
Saudi Arabia started the second half with urgency and six minutes later, Marran Mohammed headed in a cross by Abu Al Shamta to give them the lead. Marran got second of the night in the 57th minute, by getting past Dheeraj and slotting it into the back of the net.
Dheeraj made some brilliant saves to ensure the deficit didn't increase. In the end, the Blue Tigers' first appearance in the knockouts in over a decade ended with a defeat. (ANI)