Hangzhou, Sep 24 (IANS): The Indian men's football team qualified for the Round of 16 at the Asian Games for the first time since 2010 with a 1-1 draw against Myanmar in a preliminary round group match at the Xiaoshan Sports Centre Stadium here on Sunday.
The Indians failed to capitalise on a 1-0 advantage at half-time -- thanks to a goal scored by talismanic skipper Sunil Chhetri in the 23rd minute -- as they allowed Myanmar to score in the 74th minute through Kyaw Yan to level the scores. That's how things remained at the final whistle, the two teams thus getting one point each.
Both India and Myanmar had an identical one win and one defeat going into Sunday's last league encounter in the four-team Pool A. Both had 3 points each and an identical goal difference of -3. The Indians were in second place in the Group A ahead of Myanmar because they have scored more goals than their opponents,
Things remained the same after Sunday's 1-1 draw as the teams ended on four points from three matches and a goal difference of -3. India getting through to the Round of 16 as they have scored more goals (3-2). China topped Group A with seven points from two wins and a draw -- they were held 0-0 by Bangladesh on Sunday. Bangladesh finished last with one point from three matches.
This means India qualified for the pre-quarterfinals as two teams from each of the five groups qualified. Hong Kong China and Uzbekistan had already made it to the Round of 16 after Afghanistan and Syria pulled out on September 20, thus reducing Group C to two teams.
The remaining four teams will be picked from the best third-placed teams in the league stage. This means, Myanmar also qualify for the knockout rounds as they have the best record among the third-placed teams.