Intercontinental Cup 2019, As it happened: Narender Gahlot scores in India's draw, denies Syria place in final

Follow the LIVE updates of the Intercontinental Cup 2019 match between India and Syria from the EKA Arena in Ahmedabad.

Narender Gahlot scores with a header to give India the lead against Syria.   -  Twitter @IndianFootball

Good evening everyone and welcome to the LIVE blog of the Intercontinental Cup 2019 match between India and Syria from the EKA Arena in Ahmedabad. This is Aashin Prasad and I will be providing you with the commentary.

 

LIVE UPDATES

A good morale-boosting result for India before tomorrow's World Cup 2022 qualifiers draw is announced. You can find out India's opponent's on Sportstar's LIVE blog at 2.30 pm. We will bring you Stimac's quotes and reaction to this game later on our website. Until then, good night.

The full-time whistle is blown and India holds on to a 1-1 draw. Narender Gahlot is down on his knees, with his hands held together in prayer. Some Syrian players are lying on the back after the fightback in the last 20 minutes. Syria won't make the final. North Korea will take on Tajikistan in the final on Friday.

Change for India: Jobby Justin in, Chhangte out

90 + 4' Chance! An inswinging cross from the left and Alshami nearly turns the ball into the net with Jerry letting him make a run behind him.

Change for India: Farukh Choudhary in, Chhetri out

As it stands, Syria won't make the final. It needs a win to reach the final and it has four minutes to do that.

Change for Syria: Razzak in, Kourdoghli out

89' Thapa with another good corner kick and Bheke gets a header this time. But its way over the bar.

Change for India: Vinit Rai in, Sahal out

88' Manvir gets free on the right side, makes the run and puts in the cross which is cut out behind for a corner kick.

86' Bheke, Kotal clear away crosses with their headers.

India has been under the cosh for the last 10 minutes. They have given the ball away easily during the turnover and have invited pressure.

84' Alkhatib goes for precision with his shot looping it over the wall, and Gurpreet tips it over the bar. He could have caught that by the way. The resulting corner goes dangerously close to the goal.

Change for India: Manvir in, Udanta out

83' Amarjit concedes a free-kick at a dangerous position. 23 yards away from goal.

81' Another penalty shout from Syria but the referee turns it down. That was a good shout to be honest. Jerry again pulling the shirt of Alkhtaib but thankfully for him the referee waves the appeals away.

78' GOALLL! Chhetri has a word with Gurpreet but it doesn't matter... Alkhatib hammers it high and wide of Gurpreet! It's 1-1!

77' PENALTY FOR SYRIA! Jerry with a challenge on Alahmad and the referee points to the spot!

76' Jeniat goes for a header inside the box but he doesn't get enough power on it. Flies safely into the hands of Gurpreet.

Change for India: Jerry in, Mandar out

73' Chhangte tracks back to make a challenge. Corner for Syria. Fares goes for the header but the ball goes wide

20 minutes left on the clock and as it stands, Syria is heading out of the Intercontinental Cup.

Almarmour brings down Udanta and is booked by the ref.

66' Mandar goes down with a knock. Jerry Lalrinzuala if off for his warm up. Mandar is okay to continue for now.

Alkhatib goes into the book for remonstrating with the referee. Narender and Amarjit were clipping his feet but there was no foul given his way. He lashes out and gets his first yellow of the match.

61' A well worked move from the right sets up Jeniat for a shot on the turn which goes well wide of the far post.

Change for Syria: Jeniat in, Hamwi out

58' Chhangte plays Chhetri on the left but his cross is straight into the hands of the 'keeper.

Amarjit has been crucial to India's improved display today. The youngster scraps for every ball and covers a lot of ground as the defensive midfielder. His passing, too, has been composed from the middle when under pressure.

52' GOAAAL!!! NARENDER GAHLOT WITH A THUMPING HEADER! Thapa swings in a corner from the right and Narender barges into the area and leaps hight to power a header into the top left corner! The home crowd are in raptures! That's his first international goal in only his second appearance.

50' Good control and turn from Chhetri and plays in a reverse pass into the path of Udanta, who takes an extra touch instead of an early cross. This allows Kourdoghli to put in a tackle to block the cross.

49' At the other end, Bheke does well to stave off Alslamh and let the ball go out of play.

48' Narender does well to let the ball go out for a goal kick under pressure from Almarmour.

Switch in center back positions. Bheke switches to the right center back role, Narender goes to the left.

46' The second half is underway.

Second half

Stimac would have liked what he saw and so would the Indian fans at the stadium. Much improved defensive performance from India and they have looked dangerous on the break, too. But can they sustain it for another 45 and pull off an upset result?

That's the last action of the half as the ref blows the whistle for half-time break.

45 + 1' Amarjit with a diagonal switch finds Udanta free on the right, but his first touch lets him down which allows the Syrian defender to clear the ball away from danger.

Anaz goes into the book for a shirt pull on Chhetri.

44' Good play from Syria on the left but Anaz runs into a challenge from Amarjit and goes down inside the box. Referee says no penalty.

Yellow card for Narender for pulling Alkhatib back with a shirt tug.

38' Good close control from Sahal frees up Amrajit to play in Mandar on the left. Mandar finds Chhetri inside the box, who couldn't turn and take a shot as two Syrian defenders on him.

37' Sahal fouls a Syrian attacker dangerously close to the penalty box. Syria has a free kick 21 yards away from goal on the right corner. The free kick hits a Syrian attacker and goes out for a goal kick.

India has put their foot through the ball from the back when under pressure. Seems like they don't want to afford any mistakes trying to play out from the back.

30' CHANCE! Mandar plays in Chhangte on the left, who beats the offside trap, and is through on goal. His shot with his left foot is saved well by Alma low to his left.

29' CHANCE! Narender caught napping at the back. Alkhatib brings down a long ball with a superb control but his shot is narrowly wide with Gurpreet trying to close him down. Narender should have stuck closer to his marker there and affords too much time for Alkhatib.

Some control established in midfield for India through Sahal and Thapa puling the strings in the middle. Sahal seems to have more time with his actions when on the ball than his teammates.

24' SAVE! A good cross comes in from the right and Almarmour finds himself in between Narender and Pritam for a header, which flies wide to the left of Gupreet. The Indian custodian makes a save on the dive.

22' Pritam asking a lot of Udanta's pace to chase down a zipped in pass along the ground on the right. It's too much for Udanta's asking as the ball goes out for a goal kick.

20 minutes in and the Indians aren't playing as if its an inconsequential game. The players are throwing themselves around and playing with a lot of purpose. Maybe this was what Stimac was talking about after the last game.

17' Amarjit bites at the ankle of Alslamah in the center circle and it's another free-kick Syria's way.

The TV graphic shows the shot was struck at 103 kpmh! Woof!

13' Alkhatib drills the free-kick low, which takes a deflection off Chhetri and goes whizzing away from Gurpeet's goal. The referee doesn't spot the deflection, however. No corner kick.

Bheke clatters into Almarmour while going for a header. The ref blows the whistle for a free-kick from 30 yards away from India's goal.

10' Chhetri nutmegs a Syrian defender and it draws a big cheer from the Indian crowd..

Sahal seems to be playing off Chhetri, who is leading the line. It's Chhangte on the left and Udanta on the right. Thapa and Amarjit will be the sitting midfielders.

9' Referee asks Syria to retake the free-kick. The second go doesn't clear India's wall in the box.

6' Chance for India! A flick over Syrian defender from Sahal frees Udanta on the right. Udanta cuts back to leave his marker for dead, fires in a cross which Sahal and Chhetri can't connect to on the dive.

3' Chance! As easy as that.. A one-two between Alkhatib and Almarmour allows the latter to make a darting run into the box. Almarmour under pressure fires his shot off target from five yards away from goal.

2' Long punt forward, ball falls to Udanta on the right. The winger gets away from his marker and fires in a cross which is cut out by a Syrian defender and kicked away from his own box.

Few Indian players struggled with a stomach bug in the lead up to this match, says the on-air commentator.

1' It's kick-off. Syria get the match underway kicking from right to left.

First half

The players make their walk out to the middle for the national anthems. There is a good turnout at the EKA Arena to show their support for the Indian team. There are a few Syrian supporters too who have travelled all the way to Ahmedabad to cheer on Syria.

It will be a big test for Narender and Bheke as center backs against the Syrian attack.

We are a little over 15 minutes from the kick-off.

The home side has nothing riding on this except for its bid to find its right footing in the Igor Stimac era. Syria needs a win tonight to book its berth in the final on Friday.

India has conceded four and five goals each in their heavy defeats to Tajikistan and North Korea, respectively. He has rung in the changes today. Eight changes to the XI from the 5-2 defeat to Korea.

First-choice 'keeper Gurpreet returns. Thapa, Sahal and Udanta starts. Chhangte is rewarded with a starting place for his goal against Korea. 18-year-old Narender Gahlot gets his second international cap.

The line-ups are out.

India XI: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; Pritam Kotal, Rahul Bheke, Narender Gahlot, Mandar Rao Desai; Amarjit Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Sahal Abdul Samad, Udanta Singh; Sunil Chhetri (C), Lallianzuala Chhangte

Syria XI: Alma; Al Shami, Al Hamwi, Arnaout, Kourdoghli; Al Salama, Anaz, Hag Mohamad, Almarmour Alahamad; Alkhatib (C)

Coach Stimac was not a happy man after the last game.

"Now it is very clear to me about whom to count on and whom not to consider. Everybody got a chance and not a single player now can now complain of being left out. It was essential to give them minutes on the pitch as it not possible to judge a player properly in training. Some players are (Diego) Maradonas in training but when the games come they disappear." - Stimac said at the post-match press conference post the defeat to Korea. Here are the quotes in full.

Stimac didn't take names but said the players who came on in the second half (Thapa, Sahal, Chhangte, Udanta, Bheke all came on) assumed greater responsibility than the starting XI.

Has Stimac gone with the players whom he can count on today?

Manvir Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Jobby Justin, Subhasish Bose and Rowllin Borges were few of the players who were pulled out after the first 45 minutes. What does it mean for these players?

Syria started the tournament with a smashing 5-2 win over North Korea before Tajikistan stunned it 2-0. Tajikistan is already in the final. DPR Korea will hope for a favour from India today for it to make it to the final two clash.