Mumbai: Slips, slides, mistimed challenges and mistakes were all a part of the game after the heavens opened up right before the starting whistle. Even in the difficult conditions, India snatched a 3-0 win over Kenya at Mumbai Football Arena here on Monday. Sunil Chhetri’s brace in the second half made his 100th game something to remember.
It was a game of two halves. The first was dominated by the rains and the second by India. All three goals for the hosts came in the second half after the showers subsided.
As soon as the players moved out on the pitch, the rain took over. It became harder for players to play the grounded passes. The outfield had soaked the water to its maximum so the game strategy for both sides changed to aerial passes.
Just once in the first half did India come close to finding the back of the net. In the 22nd minute, a long ball from the defense allowed and Jeje Lalpekhlua pulled the two Kenyan centre-backs with him. They made an error and clashed together. Chhetri tried to capitalise on the situation by chipping the ball over keeper Patrick Matasi who was off his line. The effort landed on the top of the net though.
Certainly, the second half was much different. The thunderstorm changed into a drizzle and the game became exciting again. In the 49th minute, the visitors could have easily made it 2-0. Forward Ovella Ochieng received a hopeful lofted ball but he produced a weak finish. In the same minute, his partner Pistone Mutamba outmuscled Sandesh Jhingan to reach the left and fired a shot wide with his left foot.
The tempo was returning to ground driven passes. The referee awarded India a spot kick after a 65th minute foul by Michael Kibwage and Chhetri made it 1-0....