Wednesday, August 20, 2014

India U-23 surrender meekly to Pakistan

Scoring a goal in each half, arch rivals silenced the vocal Garden City crowd on a pleasant mid-week game at the Bangalore Football Stadium. Incheon-bound India U-23 team meekly surrendered to the Pakistan U-23 team. Pakistan skipper Kaleemullah scored the forst goal from a direct free-kick in the 38thminute while the second was added by Man of the Match Saddam Hussain in the 90th minute.

India did have their chances in the first-half but a Team will always go back punished if chances are not converted when you have them. And in International Football, you don’t get them aplenty.

In the first half, inspirational Captain Sunil Chhetri was omnipresent. He was always there for support in the midfield, holding on to the ball that extra moment for his Teammates to recover and get into shape.

On two Occasions in the first half, he was the man who made the difference though it didn’t break the deadlock.

In the first instance, Chhetri, turned 360 degrees on to his left and as his marker slipped, his dipping long-ranger was fisted over by acrobatic Pakistan Goalkeeper Muzammil Hussain.

If that was the attempt, he turned provider for debutant Haokip Thonhkosiem in the 37th minute. He twirled in between his Sher Mumammad and Muhammad Bilal and set it up for Haokip. All in the clear, Haokip entered the box but his attempt was saved by Hussian. But even off the rebound, Francis Fernandes was unable to finish it off.

It was miss to repent as off the very next attack, Pakistan took the lead. Lalrindika Ralte, who with Milan Singh was regulating the midfield till then, brought down rival Captain Kaleemullah outside the box; and off the resultant free-kick, Kaleemullah bent it past Indian Goalkeeper Amrinder Singh.

Changing over, India looked ordinary. Despite trailing by a goal, there wasn’t any momentum nor urgency as Pakistan sealed the fate in the 90th minute through Saddam. In fact, had Saddam not muffed up a similar opportunity in the 80th minute where he failed to slot it past Amrinder, the scoreline would been more humiliating.

The buildup which stays the hallmark in the practice sessions was nowhere to be seen. There wasn’t much thrust, leave aside chances. The surrender was just meek. Hardly was a ball won in the midfield and a series of miss passes made it difficult to build an attack and restore parity. The performance was below par, lacklustre and disappointing.

National Coach Wim Koevermans did try a number of substitutions in the second half but it didn’t yield any result.

INDIA: Amrinder Singh; Pritam Kotal, Joyner Monte Lourenco, Sandesh Jhingan, Narayan Das; Milan Singh (D Ganesh – 76th), Lalrindika Ralte (Siam Hangal – 46th); Francis Fernandes (Seiminlen Doungel – 46th), Sunil Chhetri (Captain), Mandar Rao Desai (Clifton Dias – 67th), Haokip Thonhkosiem. 

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