A young Indian national football team were a goal down and starring at potential elimination against Laos in their 2019 AFC Asian Cup Playoff Qualifier second-leg, but a first-half substitution to bring on Jackichand Singh and the Men in Blue came back strongly to take a surprise 2-1 lead into the break and then they trashed Laos 6-1 in the end at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium in Guwahati, Assam to seal their place in the third round of the qualifiers for the continental tournament in the UAE 2019 with a 7-1 aggregate win.
Stephen Constantine made a couple of changes to his starting line-up with Keegan Pereira replacing Narayan Das as left-back, while Holicharan Narzary was replaced by Sumeet Passi in attack.
India went behind due to a Khonesavanh Sihavong goal in the 16th minute and were looking nervous though India had brought a 1-0 lead back from Laos last week.
A 42nd minute substitution of replacing youngster Udanta Singh with Jackichand Singh was a master stroke by Stephen Constantine, then only a minute later Jackichand set-up Jeje Lalpekhlua for the equaliser and then in injury-time young striker Sumeet Passi just had to tap in a Jackichand pass to give India a surprise 2-1 half-time lead, then Laos were the better side over the first 45 minutes.
But the lead going into the break changed the fortunes of the game and India came back into the second half with confidence and the will to seal the game.
First Sandesh Jhingan made it 3-1 for India in the 48th minute, which took the last steam out of Laos, who now needed three goals to get past India.
Jeje Lalpekhlua was once more the most dangerous of the strikers, but he only added one more to his tally in the 75th minute before midfielder Mohammeda Rafique in the 85th minute and substitute Fulganco Cardozo in the 89th minute both scored their first-ever goals for India.
In the end India could have won with double digits, but what will worry coach Stephen Constantine is the first half in which had problems of getting into the game and getting hold of their opponents. Once the team started to play freely, they controlled things and sealed a historic win for Indian football, then rarely does India score six goals against any opposition.
INDIA: 23-Gurpreet Singh Sandhu – 13-Rino Anto, 4-Arnab Mondal, 5-Sandesh Jhingan, 2-Keegan Pereira (??’ 18-Fulganco Cardozo) – 10-Udanta Singh (42′ 6-Jackichand Singh), 7-Eugeneson Lyngdoh (81′ 15-Alwyn George), 14-Mohammed Rafique, 11-Sunil Chhetri [C] – 12-Jeje Lalpekhlua, 9-Sumeet Passi