New Delhi: Defending champions India went down 1-2 to Kyrgyzstan in their opening group B match of the AFC Challenge Cup at Colombos Sugathadasa Stadium on Wednesday.
Playing with their second-string side, India, who had beaten Kyrgyzstan in the last two editions of the Nehru Cup, were down 0-2 at half-time before Denzil Franco reduced the margin from a spot-kick in the 58th minute.
Kyrgyzstan were reduced to 10 men a minute after the start of the second half as their captain, Aibek Bokoev, was given marching orders for a vicious foul on Baljit Sahni, the referee clearly indicating the use of an elbow as the reason for the dismissal.
In the first half, Kyrgyzstan striker Ildar Amirov opened the scoring after 15 minutes before his diminutive striking partner Anton Zemlianuhin doubled the lead.
We committed a few mistakes in the first half and that proved to be our undoing, said the Indian coach Sukhwinder Singh. In the second half, we played well. With little luck we could have snatched a point, he said. The coach, however, was optimistic about reaching the semi-finals.