It was another disappointing display from the ‘sleeping giant’ – who went into the crucial match without any preparation thanks to the Indian Super League – as they played catch-up with Turkmenistan, ranked 155th in the world.
For the home side, medio Arslanmyrat Amanov scored the winner on the hour mark that put his side 2-1 ahead. It was back to square one for India as they chased the equalizer for a second time after cancelling out Turkmenistan’s first goal that came off a penalty.
India coach Stephen Constantine brought in all his substitutions in the second half but a second goal continued to elude his side. Jeje Lalpekhlua went close with a powerful header by the 75th minute but it was Robin Singh who disappointed most after the Bengaluru FC striker failed to beat goalkeeper Mammet Ozazmuhammedow from a one-to-one situation in the 80th minute.
Changing ends, the Englishman replaced left-back Narayan Das with Lalchhuanmawia Fanai in the 46th minute to add solidity to the defence but in the end nothing worked.
Earlier, Turkmenistan took the lead against the run of play in the eighth minute with Abylow beating India custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu from the spot. But Jeje found the equalizer in the 28th minute.
From then on, India pressed further but the hosts dogged defence ensured that the two teams remained locked 1-1 at half-time.
Both sides played rough as Syrian referee Masoud Tufaylieh flashed the yellow card five times, three of them at India’s Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Francis Fernandes and Pritam Kotal.
India have scored just three goals in their four matches while conceding nine. The Blue Tigers now travel to Muscat to take on Oman on October 13.