A gritty 10-man Bangladesh side held Indian to a 1-1 stalemate in a group
stage match of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship on Monday. India took
the lead early on thanks to Sunil Chhetri’s strike in the 26th
minute. The Indian captain added to his already impressive tally of international
goals, taking the total to 76.

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A 37-year-old Chhetri is still India’s best player and
stepped on the pitch donning an Indian jersey for the 121st time on
October 4.

The strike took him just one goal shy of equalling Brazilian football
legend Pele’s tally of 77 goals (he achieved the feat in 92 matches for the
South Americans).

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Chhetri sits on the fourth spot in the list of highest active
goal scorers in international football. The list is lead by Portugese legend
Cristiano Ronaldo (111), Argentinian legend Lionel Messi (79), Iraq’s Ali
Mabkhout (77) and Indian captain Sunil Chhetri (76).

India were clearly the better side in the first half and
although they seemed to lose possession very often, they made up for it by
dominating all over the pitch.

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Bangladesh lost Biswanath Ghosh early on in the second half
when the player received a red card for a harsh challenge on Liston Colaco in
the 54th minute. But Chhetri’s men could not take advantage of their
opponent’s numerical disadvantage.

The Indian defence was caught sleeping in the 74th
minute when Bangladesh bagged a surprise equaliser thanks to a swift counter
attack. The goal led to Igor Stimac’s men sharing the points.

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Bangladesh was playing under their new coach after the 2022
World Cup qualifiers and managed to level the score despite the numerical

Liston Colaco but in a great shift and came close to hitting
it home in the 36th minute. The goalkeepers of both teams – India’s
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Bangladesh’s Rahman have to be credited for keeping
the score line limited to 1-1 in spite of several great attempts from both

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The encounters between both sides have a history of being
nail biters. The first leg of the world cup qualifiers also ended in a draw
with India scoring a late equaliser. While the men in blue cruised to a 2-0 victory
in the second leg fixture of the World Cup Qualifiers.

India’s next match is on Thursday against Sri Lanka.