India show character, hold UAE 1-1 in U-22 AFC Championship Qualifiers
Thursday, June 28, 2012 Report and Pic Courtesy : The AIFF
United Arab Emirates 1 (Jamal Ibrahim – 9th)
India 1 (Romeo – 88th)
Is this the dawn of a new era in Indian football? It seems so. The character on display at Royal Oman Police Stadium in Muscat against United Arab Emirates may force you to stumble for words. It rarely happens, but happens.
Down by an early Jamal Ibrahim goal, as early as the 9th minute, India came back strongly to hold UAE 1-1 in the U-22 AFC Championship. After a barrage of attacks on the rival citadel, Romeo Fernandes restored parity in the 88th minute.
You fail to keep a track of the chances India had in the second half. The tragedy stays the score sheet never reflects the manner of the match. It just reflects the score. And UAE just managed to hold on by the skin of their teeth.
The early goal conceded may have been an initial setback but it didn’t un-nerve India. Rather, they stayed content in building up from back; so much so that the first 20 minutes earned them three corners. The number increased to seven by the 40th minute.
In the midfield, it was all about the workload. Be it a robust Manandeep Singh or be it an intelligent Lalrindika Ralte or an irrepressible Milan Singh or a tireless Pranay Halder, the Indians pressed hard all throughout. The first half yielded seven corners and a handball shout was ruled out in the 40th minute inside the UAE penalty box.
Changing over, it UAE defended all throughout – not a strategy but were forced back. They tried to change the combination a number of times, but it failed. Romeo’s fresh legs on the right stretched them and in the 51st minute, Tirthankar Sarkar missed heading into an empty second post, the ball agonisingly missing.
Jeje replaced Tirthankar in the 69th minute and within two minutes, his free header off a Milan Singh corner just sailed over. UAE were surviving dangerously.
Eventually Romeo headed home in the 88th minute following a Vishal Kumar throw-in down the right. A minute later, Romeo had the best chance of the day when he sneaked in between the wall on the left, ran all the way into the 6-yard box but rival goalkeeper’s legs came in between.
National Coach Wim Koevermans and Technical Director Rob Baan congratulated the team on their splendid fightback. “I told you, you will find some good boys in this batch,” Papas told Wim.
“The boys fought well. It was heartening to fight with such a spirit against such a quality side,” AIFF general Secretary Kushal Das, who had dropped in to watch the match, commented. The match ended 1-1 and India could have easily gone back home with three points.
India next play Turkmenistan on June 30.
INDIA: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Captain); Abhishek Das, Souvik Ghosh, Prathamesh Maulinkar, Narayan Das; Pranay Halder (Vishal Kumar – 76th), Milan Singh, Saiju Mon (Romeo – 48th), Tirthankar Sarkar (Jeje Lalpekhlua – 69th), Lalrindika Ralte, Manandeep Singh.
Sun May 12 2013
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Sat May 11 2013