Sometimes the scoreline doesn’t tell the true story. And it did not on Thursday as Chinese Taipei scraped past India 2-1 to notch up their second consecutive win in a group D encounter here at the Faisal Al Huseni Stadium in West Bank on Thursday.
Yu Hsiu Chin and Lai Li Chin scored on either side of the half to cancel out Sasmita Malik’s world class free kick in the 53rd minute. Courtesy the result, Taipei move to six points from two matches while India, in spite of spirited displays, remain without a point.
While the twice SAFF Champions won the tactical battle in the first half, they were by far the better side in the second period. Head Coach Anadi Barua’s ploy of playing deep and attacking on the counter seemed to be paid off as Taipei – who scored six against Palestine in their opening game – were bottled up in the final third by India’s defence for most part of the first essay.
The second half belonged to India and Sasmita Malik whose world class free kick in the 53rdminute left the motley crowd on a pleasant evening in Palestine awe-struck.
India started the better team in the opening exchanges. Taipei were allowed virtually no space in the final third. Sweeper back Ashalata Devi’s alacrity came to the fore time and again. Her crucial block in the 8th minute kept Hsiu Chin’s powerful right-footer at bay.
In the 24th minute, Hsiu Chin was in the in thick of things again, this time failing to beat the offside trap excellently laid for her by India.
The 51st Ranked Team had a few half-chances to draw first blood as well on the counter. Former India Captain Oinam Bembem Devi’s free kick was fisted away, and Kamala Devi shot inches wide as the match neared its half an hour mark.
But out of the blue striker Yu Hsiu Chin bundled Lai Li Chin’s floater over the line moments before the half time whistle to give Taipei the lead.
Switching to 4-4-2 formation from the initial 5-4-1, India started the second half on a bright note. Bembem Devi’s low drive from just outside the box kissed the crossbar on its way out. Stopper back Ashem Romi Devi – playing her first match of the AFC Cup – made way for striker Pinky Bompal Magar.
India were breaching their rival defence more often, and in the 53rd minute of the match they got their reward. It was a piece of brilliance from winger Sasmita Malik who earned and converted her free kick to perfection from the right side of the penalty area into the far left corner of Cheng Ssu Yu’s goal. The 30-yard curler was a class apart.
Li Chin’s goal nine minutes from time broke many neutral hearts who all the while were enjoying the ball possession and swift flank play displayed by India.
In the other match of the day, Myanmar blanked Palestine 9-0. Striker Yee Yee Oo found the back of the net seven times with six of them coming in the second half when Myanmar ran riot against a hapless Palestine outfit. Khin Moe Wai – scorer in the last match as well – notched up a brace. Courtesy the win, Myanmar go to six points from two matches while the hosts are still to open their account.