The Indian national team faced the UAE in the return leg of the 2014 FIFA World Cup – Asian Zone Qualifier (Round 2) today. India managed to secure a 2-2 draw at the flooded Ambedkar Stadium, but bowed out of the Qualifiers with an aggregate result of 2-5.
The Indian team didn’t disappoint the packed Ambedkar Stadium and displayed an inspiring performance against the favourites from the Gulf region.
The Arabs took the lead in the 38th minute, when a Ahmed Khalil cross found Mohamed Al Shehhi in the Indian box. Al Shehhi headed the past India keeper Karanjit Singh to give his side a 1-0 lead at half-time.
The UAE increased their lead in the 70th through Ali Al Wahabi and it seemed like our boys were all set to face another defeat by the hands of the Arabs.
But India didn’t surrender and leveled the score in the second half. A combination by young guns Lalrindika Ralte and Jeje Lalpeklua resulted in the equaliser to the joy of the home crowd. Jeje headed in Dika’s cross in the 74th minute to record his eighth international goal and India’s first goal of the match.
The Indian team increased the pressure and were finally awarded in the 92nd minute through a goal by defender Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh.
India Coach Armando Colaco was quite happy about the performance of his team and praised his wards at the post-match press conference.
“This is the beginning of a new era in Indian football. When I backed the juniors, many had raised eyebrows. But the boys played a spirited game,” Colaco told the media gathering.
“Jeje is a strong boy. He just needs to make some minor adjustments to his game. And he is learning fast,” Colaco continued. “11 vs 11 could have been different,” he lamented, referring to India’s 0-3 loss in the first-leg.
“We always had a Plan B in place. The boys adopted fast to the conditions. We needed to run all over. The boys did that and that entertained the crowd,” Colaco concluded.
UAE’s Slovenian coach Srečko Katanec paid tribute to the full house at the Ambedkar. “In UAE, we hardly get any crowd in a match. But here, the crowd inspired Team India to play to their potential. It’s a positive sign no doubt,” Katanec said.
0-1 Mohammed Al Shehhi (40′), 0-2 Mohamed Al Wehaibi (72′), 1-2 Jeje Lalpekhlua (74′), 2-2 Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh (90’+2′)
23-Karanjit Singh; 16-Samir Naik, 19-Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh, 3-Raju Eknath Gaekwad, 9-Syed Rahim Nabi; 12-Steven Benedic Dias (63′ 20-Lalrindika Ralte), 8-Climax Lawrence [C], 21-Mehtab Hussain, 15-Clifford Miranda (84′ 13-Jewel Raja Sheikh); 10-Jeje Lalpekhlua, 11-Sunil Chhetri
1-Sandip Nandy, 22-Laxmikant Kattimani, 2-Harmanjot Singh Khabra, 4-Rowilson Rodrigues, 5-Valeriano Rebello, 6-Baljit Singh Sahni, 7-Lalkamal Bhowmick, 14-Mahesh Gawli, 17-Robert Lalthlamuana, 18-Sushil Kumar Singh
22-Humaid Khasaif; 2-Lashkari Ibrahim Ahmad (90′ 6-Juma Al Saadi), 3-Murad Yousuf, 5-Abdulla Husain Alhammadi (88′ 18-Faraj Abdalla), 7-Mohamed Al Wehaibi, 8-Hamdan Al Kamali, 9-Mohammed Al Shehhi, 11-Mubarak Alunaibi (76′ 20-Salem Al Rejaibi), 15-Ismail Alhammadi, 16-Mubarak Ghanim, 17-Jaber Al Hammadi
1-Majid Altawila Alsuwaidi, 12-Mohamed Alhosani, 4-Hamdan Al Hamdani, 10-Khamis Al Saadi, 13-Ahmed Husain Al Musabi, 14-Farhan Alfalasi, 19-Ahmad Ali Gharib, 23-Anbar Mubarak Alaraimi
Abdul Malik bin Abdul Bashir (Singapore)
Tang Yew Mun (Singapore), Lee Tzu Liang (Singapore)
Loew Thiam Hoe (Singapore)