India bowed out of the AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers after succumbing 2-0 to Tajikistan in the Pakhtakhor Central Stadium in Uzbekistan on Sunday. The Blue Tigers had earlier lost to the hosts Uzbekistan 3-0 in the Group F encounter on Friday. With the loss, India’s hopes of qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics also got shattered as the main tournament in Thailand also doubles up as an Olympic Qualifiers.
Tajikistan attacked from the word go but India’s shambolic defending somehow averted the danger every time. India could have taken the lead early on in the game when Komal Thatal’s free-kick from just outside the box managed to beat the Tajikistani defenders but Sarthak Golui couldn’t nod it in.
Tajikistan’s attacking brand of football finally paid dividends in the 30th minute when Dale Yodgorav beat the goalkeeper to draw first blood. Tajikistan sat down deep and invited pressure from the Indians who ran out of ideas in the attacking third.
This allowed them to pounce on the counter and India found themselves two goals behind in the 85th minute when Solehov bulged his shot into the back of the net from outside the penalty box.