The Indian football team’s dismal run continued as they suffered a 0-4 loss to Iran in a Group D match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier at the Azadi Stadium here on Thursday.
Haji Safi (33rd, 66th) scored twice, while Azmoun (61st) and Alireza (78th) also got on the score sheet as the highest-ranked team in Asia blanked India.
With this win, Iran finished as Group D leaders with 17 points, while a winless India remained fifth with just three points to their name ahead of their final game against Turkmenistan in Kochi on March 29.
Iran made eight changes and fielded a young team, while for India, the injured Sunil Chhetri and Eugeneson
Lyngdoh were replaced by Udanta Singh, who made his senior debut, and Pronay Halder. Arnab Mondal and Pritam Kotal made way for Sandesh Jhingan and Aibor Khongjee.
India coach Stephen Constantine described the loss as “very difficult” for his side.
“They controlled the game. It was a very difficult game for us even before it kicked-off. In the first half, we conceded from a penalty and had two players coming out for injury. It made it all the more difficult for us,” said Constantine said at the post-match interaction.
“We are a very young side. One boy made his international debut and he will never forget the fact that he played his first international match at the Azadi Stadium against Iran,” said Constantine, referring to Udanta, who became the 23rd player in the last one year to make his international debut under the coach.
“We tried to contain Iran and paid the price for some mistakes. We were short in some areas and paid the price for that. Iran are one of the best Teams in Asia and playing at the Azadi Stadium has its own challenges.”
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz, however, heaped lavish praise on young and brave India.
“I was very surprised by Team India’s display. There has been a vast improvement in their performance over the last few months,” he said.
India arrive in Kochi on Friday.