Rhythmic as they are the Arabic beats which kept one entertained from the stands all throughout will tempt you shake a leg. With the temperature dropping with every minute, and it being accompanied by a fresh spell of chill winds which will make you shiver to the spine, swinging to the beats was possibly was the best option in the stands.
The other option obviously was to play Football yourself under the lights.
On the field, however, it wasn’t that rhythmic for India. Despite all of India’s domination all throughout, Jordan had the last laugh as they beat India 3-1 in the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship China 2015 Qualifiers at the Petra Stadium in Amman on Friday (November 7). The defeat, second in session, ring exit bells for India from the Championship.
All of Jordan’s three goals came of counter-attacks as the Indians recovered slowly after the high line of defence was beaten. Twice, they were split open as the rivals played over them to find the spare man overlapping. The story had stayed the same even in the first match against Uzbekistan.
One may try to explain about India’s possession but post final whistle, it never counts. History remembers scores and it stays stamped – India lost 1-3. Inability to convert isn’t good Football; capitalizing three out of three, is.
In any case, India seized the momentum early and lashed a series of attacks on the rival citadel. After some time one have lost count of how many were earned. The domination was such that in the first half itself, by the 15th minute, Jordan were defending with nine in the box.
They, nonetheless, had surged into the lead by then. Much against the run of play, India’s high line of defence enabled Rasha Khawaled to beat the off-side trap, run ahead and slot it to the left of a diving Panthoi.
Stunned, India further went all out. But the jungle of legs prevented them from having a clear shot, the sole exception being Nikhila’s long-ranger which had rival Goalkeeper Malak Shannak stretched to the full in the 26th minute.
The equalizer seemed inevitable but India couldn’t earn it till them. Eventually India restored parity, also from a brilliant counter attack which started from their own box while defending one of Jordan’s rare corners. Rachita initiated the transition and fed Sanju on the left flank. Sanju sprinted past her marker and essayed a perfect cross which caught Malak in two minds. All Pyari had to do was to walk with the ball into an empty net.
That apart, Pyari stayed underutilized as despite all the domination, play wasn’t stretched to the flanks in both the halves; in fact, to both the flanks.
Immediately after resumption, India earned a free-kick down the right. The nimble footed Dangmei Grace, who constantly posed a threat was brought down by Rand Abu-Hussein. But the rival defence managed to thwart it off.
A couple of minutes later, Ratanbala Devi, all in the clear and with only Malak to beat shot wide; and the very next minute, even as Pyari tried to tap into an almost empty net, she slipped at the time of contact.
And it came back to hit quite painfully as Jordan, again against the run of play took the lead through Nour Ayoub in the 56th minute. The high line of defence led to the downfall again – this time too it was played between the defenders and Nour, who didn’t take a clue from India’s missed chances, tapped home.
The lesson, nevertheless, wasn’t learnt. Three minutes later, Ratanbala entered the box but failed to pierce the nail with Malak hopelessly out of position.
Head Coach Priya PV brought in her first substitution – Margaret Devi coming in for Ratanbala.
On the contrary, Jordan consolidated their lead through Lama Alomari in the 70th minute; and with the flanks being underutilized, India lost the plot thereafter.
Jordan could have scored one more but in the 87th minute, Lana Feras’ shot hit the post with Panthoi beaten.
INDIA U-19 WOMEN’s NATIONAL TEAM LINE-UP
Panthoi – Sweety Devi, Rachita, Dalima Chibber [C], Komal – Nikhila Thumbayil (75′ Sinulata Sahoo), Sangita, Sanju, Gangmei Grace, Pyari Xaxa, Ratanbala Devi (60′ Margaret Devi)
(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)