Passi guides India to 3-1 win over Australian club

Sumeet Passi's brace and a brilliant first-half header by Sajid Dhot helped India beat APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC U-20 side 3-1 in a friendly fixture in Sydney on Saturday.

The Indian players before the match against APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC U-20 team in Sydney.   -  AIFF

Sumeet Passi's brace and a brilliant first-half header by Sajid Dhot helped India beat APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC U-20 side 3-1 in a friendly fixture in Sydney on Saturday.

After APIA Tigers boys scored the opening goal of the match in the 27th minute, Dhot brought India back into the game after scoring the equaliser eight minutes later.

After the changeover, Sumeet Passi (47’, 57’) found the net twice within 10 minutes to steal a victory in the first friendly fixture played Down Under during the ongoing exposure trip.

Coach Stephen Constantine featured an all U-23 side except Sumeet Passi who was donning the captain’s armband for the country for the first time.

The match was evenly poised between the two sides until the hosts earned a free-kick at the top of the box and they did no mistake to make the most of it to go 1-0 up in the 22nd minute.

Five minutes later, Passi found the back of the net but he was ruled offside by the official. But, India didn’t need to wait for more as Sajid Dhot headed a cross from Zuala home to send the Indian dugout in a rupture in the 35th minute.

After the break, India changed gears and got into the lead within less than two minutes. Ashique Kuruniyan floated in a long ball from the left wing and Sumeet Passi connected it beautifully to stun the APAI Tigers FC goalkeeper in the 47th minute.

Germanpreet Singh tried to add more to take the lead beyond APIA Tigers FC’s reach but his long-ranger sailed over the crossbar five minutes later.

Passi completed his brace in the 57th minute when he converted a cross from Nikhil Poojary meticulously to take complete control of the game.

The host tried tooth and nail to breach the Indian defence but the resilience shown by Indian defenders were enough to keep them at bay till the final whistle.

“It was a good physical game against APIA Tigers U20s and obviously it was a good game for us leading up to the Sydney FC game on 28th,” India coach Stephen Constantine said after the game.

India will play Sydney FC on August 28.

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