India have been on a high since late. Breaking into the top-100 in the world rankings has had a profound impact in how they are perceived. Their rise in the Asian Cup Qualifiers has only made their case stronger.

On Tuesday, the team stretched their winning streak to seven as they registered a 2-0 win over a 10-man Nepal in a friendly in Mumbai.

Playing without rested striker Sunil Chhetri, India still looked menacing. Nepal, who had stepped in to play the game after Lebanon had backed out last minute, were up for the challenge and fought tooth and nail for much of the first-half. In the second half, though, it was India who found an extra gear and scored through goals from Sandesh Jhingan and Jeje Lalpehklua.

It was India who began well with a number of chances spurred by the support of a sparsely filled, but vociferous crowd at Mumbai Football arena.

The team has been camping in the city for over two weeks now. It did not take them long to feel right at home.

Robin Singh had two good chances in the first half, but failed to convert both. The two teams played a dull game for most of the first half, with India holding the edge but Nepal growing in strength as the half came to a close.

Nepal did have their moments and could have taken the lead in the first half itself as Nawayug Shreshtha dribbled past India keeper Gurpreet Sandhu, who came off the goal line to clear the shot. Shreshtha found his way past him but could not convert narrowly missing out on a goal.

India made Nepal pay dearly in the second half as Jhingan lapped up a free ball in the box to slot home in the 60th minute to hand India the lead.

If the goal wasn’t enough, Nepal were handed another blow as Nepalese skipper Biraj Maharjan was given his marching orders as he brought down Bikash Jairu just outside the box. Jairu was through on goal with only the Gorkhali keeper to beat after a clincial lob by Sandhu from the other half.

While India could not score from the resultant free-kick, they did find the back of the net 11 minutes from time as Jeje Lalpekhlua found the back of the net after capitalising on a fine cross by Mohammad Rafique.

This is India’s last practice game before they play Kyrgyz Republic in the all-important AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifier on June 13 in Bengaluru.

Coach Stephen Constantine will take heart from the team performance on Tuesday. While Nepal did not provide the same test as Lebanon, it was definitely a confidence-boosting win for the Blue Tigers while they face a stiffer challenge from the Kyrgyz Republic outfit in a week’s time.


  • India 2 (Sandesh Jhingan 60th, Jeje Lalpekhlua 78th) beat Nepal 0.