It's not very often that the Indian football team gives its fans something to cheer about. Stephan Constantine's side had finished at the bottom of their group in the joint preliminary round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup. But they still had a chance to make it to the Asian Cup qualifiers if they won in the playoffs.
It all came down to a match against Laos, ranked 174th in the world – 11 spots below India. The Blue Tigers had won the first leg 1-0 in Laos, so they had an advantage as the second leg began in Guwahati on Tuesday. However, the visitors drew early blood, with Khonesavanh Sihavong scoring in the 16th minute to put pressure on India.
India dominated for a majority of the first half, but just couldn't manage to find the back of the net until two minutes before half-time, when Jeje Lalpekhlua received Sumeet Passi's cross and tapped it home. Passi himself scored in added time of the first half to get India the lead going into half-time.
After that, it was a demolition, as the Blue Tigers feasted on Laos in the second half, scoring goal after goal. Sandesh Jhingan, Mohammed Rafique and Fulganco Cardozo joined the scoresheet, while Lalpekhlua added another goal to his name. The final score read 6-1 to the hosts, with the aggregate over two legs being 7-1. With this, India are through to the qualifiers.