India faced reality by ATK Mohun Bagan, lose 1-2 despite Sunil Chhetri strike | Soccer News


KOLKATA: Talismanic Sunil Chhetri returned to action with a delightful strike but it wasn’t enough as India lost 1-2 to Indian Super League side ATK Mohun Bagan in a a practice game at Salt Lake Stadium on Wednesday.
Returning to action after a seven-month injury layoff, the 37-year-old India captain was in his element as he used a cross from Glan Martins to give India the perfect start.
But India’s back line – minus star centre-forward Sandesh Jhingan and reliable Pritam Kota who played for ATK Mohun Bagan – crumbled soon after with Liston Colaco and rising youngster Kiyan Nassiri scoring a goal apiece in the space of seven minutes.
It was a tough reality check for the side coached by Igor Stimac who started as heavy favorites in the 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers.
The margin of defeat could have been worse as ATKMB missed a flurry of chances with Colaco, David Williams and Kauko squandering easy opportunities.
Jhingan also returned to action after being absent from ATKMB’s AFC Cup matches last month and played for 10 minutes in the second half before retiring after a suspected injury.
Details of the injury are unknown and it remains to be seen if he will be available for ATKMB’s AFC Cup Group league opener against Gokulam Kerala here on May 18.
In a tightly contested match, 106th-ranked India dominated past the Mariners before seizing the momentum with Colaco’s 30th-minute strike.
Colaco then netted the winning goal for Nassiri in the 37th minute.
Absent an injured Rahim Ali, Chhetri started with VP Suhair up front as Stimac also tried Udanta Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Ashish Rao, Akash Mishra, Jeakson Singh.
ATKMB, coached by Juan Ferrando, also faced their team’s main players in the first half before giving the juniors chances after the break.
It was India’s first of two practice matches ahead of next month’s Asian Cup qualifiers.
The second game is against ‘I-League All Stars’ which is to be played on May 17.
India will then fly to Doha to play two more friendlies against Zambia (May 25) and Jordan (May 28) before taking on Cambodia (June 8) here at Salt Lake Stadium.

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