Welcome to Sportstar's live blog of the India vs Hong Kong AFC Asian Cup qualifier Group D match played at the Salt Lake (VYBK) Stadium in Kolkata, India.
This is Neeladri Bhattacharjee bringing you buildup of the final fixture of this round along with minute-by-minute updates of the match as it happens. That was all for the night in this match.
Match Report: India blanks Hong Kong in AFC Asian Cup Quaifiers to enter finals as group leader
India 4-0 Hong Kong
90+3' GOOOOOAAAAALLL!!!!!!! India attacks on the counter and a cross from the right is coverted by Ishan Pandita as India goes four goals up
India 4-0 Hong Kong
90+1' Gurpreet looks to have picked up an injury, but the stadium continues to dedicate TIFOs and banners for Sunil Chhetri who levelled on goals with Ferenc Puskas and remains two goals behind Lionel Messi
85' GOOOOOOOAAAAALLL!!!!! Manvir Singh gets the ball in the penalty box and meets the cross with a bullet of a shot to put the game to bed
India 3-0 Hong Kong
82' Substitution for India! In: Ishan Pandita, Out: Ashique Kuruniyan
81' Save! Wong Wai goes for another shot from distance and is frustrated again by the keeper who catches the ball, makes another save, denying any space for the Red Shirts
80' Chance! A dangerous cross from the left by Ashique for Manvir, who fails to reach it and India misses another chance to make the best out of Hong Kong's poor marking
79' Hong Kong's corner kick is headed away by Manvir Singh as India looks to win the group, finish right at the top of the group
78' Substitution for Hong Kong! In: Lau Hok Ming, Yu Jesse Out: Yu Wai Lim, Wong Ho
77' Manvir tries to attack, but fails to find Ashique. Four players, Brandon, Liston, Ashique and Manvir look hungry to make a mark
76' Substitution for India! In: Brandon Fernandes, Out: Sunil Chhetri
74' Yellow card! Yu Wai Lim pulls down Colaco as the ATKMB player tries to make a run on the counter and earns a booking, the second yellow card for the team in this match so far
73' SAVE! Hong Kong tries an attack through the set-piece and Philip gets in the offside position and heads the ball, but Gurpreet makes another save. In case the ball would have gone in, it would have been ruled out
73' India has just two men at the back and as Hong Kong tries to press, Anwar clears the ball long, out of danger
70' Martins gets the ball rolling and is playing the role of a lynchpin inthe midfield, holding the defence and Manvir tries a cross from the right, but Chhetri cannot reach it
69' Chance! A through ball for Manvir is interceoted by Yapp as Hong Kong desperately cling on to deny India any further goals
68' Anwar Ali switches the ball from the right to the left as Roshan ereceives it and passes in front, but the final pass from Colaco ends to nothing
67' India goes on another attack, but the pass from Colaco for Ashique does not reach the BFC player with Yu Wai Lim making a key interception
65' Foul! Ashique tries to make a run in the midfield, but is pulled back by Law and India gets a free kick, which is taken quickly. India attacks on the counter and Colaco shoots with a poor finish to end that development
64' Chance! Hong Kong tries to hit a deceptive dink as Matt Orr takes a shit at the edge of the box, but no danger from that whatsoever as India continues to have the lead for now
63' Shot! Wong takes a free kick, but his right-footed curler flies just wide over the goal
62' Foul! Roshan is lookig dodgy in discipline as he concedes a foul in Wong and Hong Kong gets a free kick on the right of the penalty box
60' Double substitution for India! In: Manvir Singh, Liston Colaco, Out: Udanta Singh, Sahal Abdul Samad
59' Chhetri gets the ball close to the box and tries to pass to Ashique, but his late pass is intercepted, but only til Martins gets to it and shoots form distance, but off-target.
58' Hong Kong catches India napping along the left flank, tries to punish, but Roshan makes a last-minute challenge to end that attack
57' Hong Kong is looking to have lost control along the flanks at the moment and the rain is not helping. It, however, getas a throw-in, which is cleared by Martins and Ashique is fouled in the follow-up
55' Roshan clears the ball from its half as Yapp gets the ball from a back pass and Hong Kong has decided to makea double change.
In: Jhangir Khan, Chan Philip, Out: Sun Ming Him, Ju Yingzhi
54' Save! Hong Komg tries to attack through a set-piece and the final towering header in front of Gurpreet is gobbled up by the BFC goalie
53' Hong Kong finallly gets the ball in the midfield, but five blue shirts stop the forwards run and Akash Mishra makes a briliant run from the Indian half into the final third and shoots with his weaker foot.
Yapp makes another save to deny the third goal to the Blue Tigers, who have looked consistently hugry for more
52' Corner Kick for India! Roshan takes the kick, which is missed by every blue shirt and Hong Kong gets the ball for a bried period of time and then loses it again
51' Save! Chhetri gets the ball in the final third an dgoes for goal with a shot from the penalty box. Yapp, however, saves it and Chhetri knows he could have beat the keeper then
50' Ashique delivers another cross for Chhetri, but Yapp gets a touch on full stretch to deflect the ball as Hong Kong clings on to limit India's attacks, one after the other
50' India's corner kick initially cleared is pulled back into attack by Martins and Udanta gets the final pass, shoots but his shot is just inches off-target
48' India is playing very high up the pitch, with Ashique trying to fins gaps along the left flank, but Hong Kong forces out a throw-in
47' Glan Martins gets the ball in attack, with the pass to Ashique, whose cross for Chhetris is too long and the ball goes out for a goal kick
46' India has brought on Glan Martins to replace Suresh, who was booked in the first half as Igor Stimac shuffles his options in a match where India is confortably ahead at the moment
Second Half begins!
India 2-0 Hong Kong
45' GOAAALLLLLLLLL!!!!!! Chhetri gets the ball from the left and lands the ball and shoots the ball into the net.
With the goal he has 84 international goals, level with Ferenc Puskas in lower games
India 2-0 Hong Kong
44' Foul! Ju Yingzhi runs into Suresh, gets the ball, but the challenge was late as the referee gives a foul for the Blue Tigers. Free Kick for India, but no cards shown
44' Roshan makes a run into and delivers a cross from tje right for Akash, but the ball is cleared for a throw-in in favour of India
43' Sunil is pressing very high and forces an error by the HKG defence, but the goalkeeper Yapp gets to the ball first, who kicks the ball long
41' Foul! Matt Orr is fouled again as Hong Kong gets a freee kick. Ju takes it, which is headed away initially and then cleared by Akash Mishra
39' Chance! Hong Kong goes on attack and a header by Ju is just too high as the bal lflies over the goal, Gurpreet was beaten, but so was the goal
38' Hong Kong's Sung Ming Him gets a cross along the left flank, but fails to control the ball and India continues to establish control in a match with the rain heavily pouring down
36' Udanta makes a run from the midfield and fails to pass rto Roshan as lack of communication ends that attack and Akash Mishra makes a run on the opposite flank, but his cross is too late as it flies over the goal for a goal kick
35' Hong Kong has two of its strikers marked well by the blue shirts and the red shirts go along the flanks, crosses from the right, but Sahal tracks back and clears the ball to keep India in front
33' Another free kick for Hong Kong, and India clears the ball away and Hong Kong on the attack again. Jeakson steals the ball, passes to Suresh and India forces Hong Kong back
32' FOUL! Roshan makes a late challenge on Law and Hong Kong gets a free kick.
Free Kick taken quickly with Sun Ming Him making a run behind the Indian defence, but his shot is saved by Gurpreet comfortably
31' Another corner for India with Udanta stepping up to take it. Anwar makes contact, buit his shot is cleared by Hong Kong
29' India has got back possession, but the long ball for Chhetri is intercepted and cleared by Yu. The Indian forward is being closely marked by the Hong Kong team
28' We are almoost half-an-hour into the match and Hong Kong is throwing everything at India, with corner kicks and throw-ins, but India is clinging on to the slender lead
26' Chance! A cross comes in for Hong Kong as India's defence was caight napping, but the red shirts fail to exploit the gap and their late reaction awards a corner to them
24' Chance! Ashique makes a run along the left flank with the ball and crosses for Chhetri, but HKG tracks back right on time to clear the ball away
23' Yellow Card! Udanta is fouled by the Hong Kong Captain Huyang Yang as Stimac protests for the rash challenge.
22' India resumes play with a throw-in ad Suresh goes down after a challenge by Ju
21' Akash Mishra looks to have picked up an injury as he was dispossessed of the ball by Lim and the Indian is being attended by the team's medical team
20' India takes back possession, makes a run along the left flank and a cross is delivered for Chhetri, which is intercepted and cleared by Hong Kong
19' Gurpreet kicks the ball long, but Yu Wai Lim goes ddown as Sahal fouls him trying to get to the ball and Hong Komng gets a free kick.
18' The Indian audience is enjoying every bit of the match with the mexican wave going around in the stadium as Hong Kong tries to breach the blue wall at the back
17' Save! Yapp fists the ball away at just the right moment as Sunil was closing in on the cross from the right by Ashique. Yapp is the most experienced goalkeeper for the visitor and he is showing his class with his antiques
16' India has struck early with a corner kick taken quickly with the cross, first hit by Ashique and then by Ali, who put the Blue Tigers in front
14' Off target! Hong Kong begins again to attack with Wong Wai makes a solo run from the midfield to the final third goes for goal. However, the ball flies off-target
13' Hong Kong loses the ball yet again and Suresh is fouled this time by Yand, the HKG captain and India takes the free kick quickly. Sunil makes a run behind the HKG and is flagged offside
12' India takes back possession, tries to build along the right flank, but Hong Kong stops that ball in the midfield
11' Block! Hong Kong goes on the attack, with a cross for Sun Ming is intercepted by Jhingan as the ball goes out for a HKG corner. The corner kick that follows has Ju get his head on it, but the header is off target as the ball goes out for a goal kick in favour of India
10' India is forcing Hong Kong is sequester at the back, but a through ball in for Wong is spotted by Gurpreet, who kicks the ball long
9' Yelow Card! Hong Kong tries to attack on the counter and Wong Wai is pulled by Suresh as the BFC player is booked for that offense
9' Sun Ming is trying to take control of the ball, but so far it has been ojust blue shirts around the park. Sunil and Jeakson pair up with beautiful one-twos the ball goes out for a throw-in
8' Sean Tse's free kick is cleared by Anwar Ali and Roshan carries the ball into the Hong Kong box, loses control and fails to pass it to Ashique
7' Hong Kong is giving the ball away again -- something Igor Stimac had talked about, ball retention as he watches the team from the sidelines.
5' Sun Ming tries to take control of the ball for Hong Kong, but loses it. The throw-in that follows leads Hong Kong getting the ball back. Orr gets the ball, but Anwar stops that development. He has been the man of the match so far tonight
4' Anwar Ali, who is back at the heart of defence has struck just when Hong Kong was looking to ease into the match and the stadium resounds of "India! India!" cheers2' GOOOOOAAAAALLLLLL!!!!!! Anwar Ali gets the ball in the penalty box and buries theball in the net
India 1-0 Hong Kong
1' Sunil Chhetri kicks off the mtach with Indian starts on the attack with Akash Mishra's ball cleared for a corner kick to India
8:30 pm: Kick Off!
8:25 pm: The National Anthems are done. The fans applaud as the teams take their position for the fight for the top spot in Group D of the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.
8:23 pm: The fans have settled in t7he stadiu with the players lined up in the tunnel. India is in its blue kit, while Hong Kong starts in its red kit.
8:15 pm: 15 Miinutes to Kick Off!
Two changes in the starting lineups for the Blue Tigers with Manvir Singh and Liston Colaco out. Sahal Abdul Samad, the super-sub of the previous match starts tonight!
India has already qualified for the AFC Asian Cup 2023 finals, as a successive appearance in the finals for the first time ever and fifth-time in the history of Indian Football.
8:00 pm: FORM GUIDE: India and Hong Kong are in the same form in recent matches, with either side winning two matches and losing three in their last five fixtures.
India’s last 5 games:
- India 1 - 2 Bahrain
- India 0 - 3 Belarus
- India 0 - 2 Jordan
- India 2 - 0 Cambodia
- India 2 - 1 Afghanistan
Hong Kong’s last 5 games:
- Hong Kong 0 - 1 Iraq
- Hong Kong 0 - 4 Bahrain
- Hong Kong 0 - 2 Malaysia
- Hong Kong 2 - 1 Afghanistan
- Hong Kong 3 - 0 Cambodia
7:45 pm: HEAD-TO-HEAD: India and Hong Kong have faced each other 15 times and India leads the Head-to-Head record by winning 7 of the games. Hong Kong won four among them and the remaining four games ended as ties.
7:30 pm: Starting Lineups are out!
India Starting XI: Gurpreet (GK), Roshan, Jhingan, Anwar, Akash, Jeakson, Suresh, Sahal, Udanta, Ashique, Sunil Chhetri (C).
Hong Kong Starting XI: Yapp Hung Fui; Sean Tse, Yu Wai Lim, Law Tsz Chun, Huang Yang (C), Sun Ming Him, Matt Orr, Wong Wai, Fung Hing Wa, Wong Tsz Ho, Ju Yingzhi
India looked to draw motivation from its “dramatic” win against Afghanistan as it prepared to face a technically strong Hong Kong in the concluding group D fixture of the AFC Asian Cup qualifying final round, at the Salt Lake Stadium on Sunday.
Interestingly, the last match of the group league has turned out to be a virtual decider where the two top two sides of the current standings meet to decide the group topper.Both India and Hong Kong are tied on top with six points from two wins each but the latter currently holds the top spot because of a better goal difference.
READ | Has India qualified for the AFC Asian Cup 2023?
Given the situation, India needs a win to secure the top spot and ensure its passage to Asian Cup 2023 final stage. There are some spots reserved for the best second finishers but Indian head coach Igor Stimac preferred his team to be taking the straight-forward route.
“We play to win tomorrow and qualify on merit. I don’t want to get into the complexities of mathematical calculations as it does not help in the end,” Stimac said on the eve of the match.
“We are up against a technically strong team but we have to go out and start from the very first minute like we did against Afghanistan. I would expect my players to recall the passion, attitude and the hunger that we showed against our previous opponent when taking on Hong Kong,” he added.
The Indian captain Sunil Chhetri, who scored three out India’s four goals in the tournament so far and took his personal tally to 83 international goals, said the team needs to start from where it left off against Afghanistan.
READ: From Colaco to Pandita, five young players to watch out for in the Indian football team
“It is a very important game and we have to start from where we left off in our previous win,” Chhetri said. India’s recent record against Hong Kong is not very favourable. The national team last beat Hong Kong last almost three decades ago in 1993 in a World Cup qualifying match. Since then the two have met only thrice (in 2006, 2009 and 2010) in international friendlies where Hong Kong has won the recent two while the other match ended in a draw.
A lot has happened in the long time since the two sides met in a competitive format. India’s development efforts in the past decade have taken the national side’s FIFA ranking to a fairly level (which currently is 106).
“We have to come out with a tiger’s heart in every match when we put on the national colours. This should be the main attitude of the players who need to convince everyone that whatever way we are physically built, we have a big heart,” Stimac said.
The Hong Kong coach Jorn Andersen said his team came with little expectations before the tournament but after winning successive matches the level of confidence is much higher now. “For us the situation is really positive. We didn’t expect it when we were coming here, but we have already made two good games and taken six points,” he said.
READ: Liston Colaco: We can surely achieve greater things for the national team
The former DPR Korea coach said that his team is in a good rhythm and will be able to solve the problem of having to play in front of a huge home crowd.
“India will have the big advantage of playing at home in front of maybe 50,000 spectators and that’s something we have to solve. But we have experienced players, we have a good collective team and I think we can solve this problem,” Andersen said.
When and where to watch?