BENGALURU (Reuters) - India salvaged some pride and dented Guam’s chances of making it to the next round of World Cup qualification with a 1-0 win on a rainy night in Bengaluru on Thursday.
Robin Singh’s 10th minute strike was enough to secure the hosts’s first points of the campaign, despite going a man down at the end of the first half after defender Sehnaj Singh was shown a straight red for a lunge on midfielder Justin David.
The winners of the eight groups and four best runners-up will advance through to the next stage qualification for Russia 2018, where Asia will have at least four representatives.
India, on three points after six games, have no hope of progressing and prop up Group D, but the defeat left Guam’s hopes hanging by a thread.
The side from the tiny U.S. territory of less than 200,000 inhabitants in the North Pacific Ocean have been the surprise package of the five-team group so far.
Guam sit fourth in the standings, tied on seven points with Turkmenistan, whom they beat 1-0 in June in what was their first World Cup fixture since being thrashed 16-0 by Tajikistan in 2000.
Coach Gary White’s team followed that up by beating India 2-1, before being trounced 6-0 by group leaders Iran.
They bounced back to hold Oman to a goalless draw, leaving them with a shout of making it to the next stage.
Guam have risen 19 places to 155th in the FIFA world rankings since the current round of qualifying began in June. India have sunk 31 places, to 172nd, just one spot above their worst-ever rank of 173rd.
“I’m very disappointed with the result. We dominated the game but were denied by a world-class finish. And that’s the difference between the two teams, that we missed several goalscoring opportunities,” White said.
With two qualifiers left to play, Guam host group leaders Iran next.
The Iranians, who have 11 points and a game in hand, lead Group D on goal difference, ahead of Oman, who Guam visit in their final fixture in March.
“We’ve got to get our heads back up,” White said. “We need to dig deep and try to get some points in our next two games.”
editing by Justin Palmer