Amman, November 18: India went down fighting 1-2 to Jordan in an international friendly at the King Abdullah II Stadium in Amman on Saturday (November 17).
A direct goal from Jordan captain and goalkeeper Amar Shafi gave hosts the lead in the 27th minute. Shafi's long kick sailed over the Indian defence and bounced viciously as his Indian counterpart Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who had earlier saved a penalty, was out of his line misjudged it, and despite his desperate attempt to keep it away, it went in to give Jordan the lead.
After the change of ends, Ihsaan Haddad doubled the hosts lead in the 56th minute.
India had a ray of hope when Bengaluru FC's Indian Super League hero Nishu Kumar, who was making his debut, pulled one back in the 61st minute, but the visitors held their nerves to prevail in what was the first international match between the two sides.
Jordan survived a scare in the 87th minute when Narayan's corner was flicked at the near post by Sumeet Passi, but a diving Pronay Halder just failed to make the touch.
It was so close yet to far as the hosts had the last laugh.
The match comes in the light of preparations for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup to be held from Jaunary 5 to February 1 in the UAE.
India, who are returning to the continental competition after an eight-year gap, are drawn along with the hosts, Bahrain and Thailand.
The Blue Tigers begin their campaign on Jaunary 6 against Thailand at the Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
India do not have any international matches till late December when they take on Oman, while Jordan hosts Saudi Arabia on Tuesday (November 20).
The match against Jordan started amidst uncertainty as the Indian players arrived late after their connection flights from Kuwait were delayed due to inclement weather.
The team descended on Amman without its talismanic striker Sunil Chhetri, who was ruled out due to an ankle injury.
Indians were also forced to play without regular striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, experienced striker Balwant Singh and the two regular wingers - Udanta Singh and Halicharan Narzary -- as all of them were yet to recover after from their hectic travel to Amman, which included a 32-hour halt at the Kuwait International Airport after air traffic was suspended owing to thunderstorms and torrential rain.
Coach Stephen Constantine has often spoken about the need to have different leaders and keeping in tune with it Gurpreet was given the captain's armband while it was Sandesh Jhingan who had led the side in the previous freindly against China which had ended in a stalemate.
Gurpreet might have had a mixed bag of joy and despair, but India, despite fielding a depleted side, bowed out with a fight.
(With inputs from AIFF Media)