Intercontinental Cup: India falls to DPR Korea

India's chances of making the Intercontinental Cup final look bleak after it lost 2-5 to DPR Korea on Saturday, despite Lallianzuala Chhangte and Sunil Chhetri scoring in the second half.

Sunil Chhetri scored in India's encounter with DPR Korea but it wasn't enough to save the Blue Tigers, who lost 2-5.   -  AIFF Media

DPR Korea proved too good for India, handing out a 5-2 defeat to the host, here in a Intercontinental Cup match at the EKA Arena on Saturday.

Having lost the first outing 2-4 against Tajikistan, India’s chances of reaching the final is virtually extinguished.

The 3-0 lead that DPR Korea enjoyed in the opening half exposed the problems in the Indian defence. Stimac overhauled his roster yet again putting nine new names compared to the side that turned out against Tajikistan.

With captain and striker Sunil Chhetri and midfielder Amarjit Singh Kiyam retaining their places, the coach tried a new defensive set-up bringing in Pritam Kotal, Sandesh Jhingan, Subhasish Bose and Jerry Lalrinzuala.

Re-live India vs DPR Korea | Shaky defence costs India again as Blue Tigers lose 2-5

The opposition presented a more settled look retaining its attack that turned out against Syria in its first outing of the tournament. The Indian team also presented a three-man attack with Manvir Singh and Jobby Justin joining Sunil Chhetri in the offensive. Seasoned Rowllin Borges anchored the midfield while Brandon Fernandes and Amarjit Singh Kiyam took to the wings.

Playing a new system with three-man attack, the Indian line-up suffered communication gaps giving its opponent enough space in the middle to make the build-ups. It was a matter of time before the Indian citadel fell and it happened through a free-kick on top of the box that was sent home by the DPR Korea captain Jong Il Gwan in the eighth minute.

The eighth minute concession did prod India out of its slumber but Chhetri fluffed a clear opportunity in the 11th minute when he nodded over from the goalmouth. 

India slipped into further crisis conceding the second in the 16th minute when a confusion between Kotal and Jhingan in the defence saw Sim Jin making the most of it. By this time, the host had muddled up the plan and conceded the third in the 29th minute when Gwan nodded in his second in the 29th minute to make it 3-0.

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Stimac overhauled the side after the break and exhausted the quota of six substitutions to bring back the young brigade. With likes of Udanta Singh, Sahal Abdul Samad, Anirudh Thapa and Lallianzuala Chhangte back in attack, the host’s performance improved seeing Chhangte pulling one back in the 51st minute. 

But India’s defensive problems persisted as Korea made it 4-1 in 63rd minute through Ri Un Chol off a counter-attack. Chhetri added one more to his tally of 71 international goals to make it 4-2 in the 71st minute but it was all over for the host by then as Korea made it 5-2 in the injury-time to rub more salt in India’s wound. 

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