Breaking News: India Qualifies for the AFC Challenge Cup; Thrash Pakistan 3-1
Making a sensational comeback into the match after trailing 0-1 in the first half, India scored at brace in the second half to beat Pakistan 3-1. Playing their second match of the Qualifier at the MBPJ Stadium, Petaling Jaya in Malaysia, India had to suffer a hick up in the first half when Pakistan’s Arif Mehmooh drew the first blood for the arch rival in the 32nd minute.
In reply, India’s next Bhaichung Bhutia, Jeje Lalpekhlua came up with a brilliant equalizer in the 67th minute. Senior pro Steven Dias gave India the lead in the last minute of the stipulated time before Jeje scored his second goal in the injury time to inflict more injury to the Pakistani’s.
Bob Houghton boys went into the match as the favorites and started dominating the proceedings right from the beginning. Nabi once again was lively in the left flank and created couple of chances for the strikers but Pakistan’s defense, boasted by the presence of Premier League player Zesh Rehman stood firm to deny the Indian’s a goal.
The Indians enjoyed maximum ball possession and attack but Pakistan came up with the most importing thing – Scoring a goal in the 32nd minute through Arif Mehmood. India went into the break trailing 0-1.
The second half also began in a similar fashion with India talking charge and getting two consecutive corners which they failed to convert. India then came close to equalizing in the 63rd minute when Nabi’s cross found Skipper Chhetri unmarked inside the box which he headed wide.
The breather came for the ‘Men in Blue’ in the 67th minute with a brilliant goal from Jeje assisted by the Skipper Sunil Chhetri. They came close to scoring again in the 70th minute when Gouramangi’s header was deflected by the Greens brigade defender just a couple of inches away from the post.
Pakistan also have their sheer chance of scoring when they came close to taking another lead in the 75th minute after clearing off three consecutive corners. In the counterattack, the Indian defense was caught off guard and Subrata had to come out to clear the ball for a corner.
Desperate to take the lead, India kept pressing on when Nabi found Chhetri who finds Jeje with a clever back heel; Jeje took a powerful left footer which keeper Amir Gul did exceptionally well to stop.
As the match was progressing towards a draw, India came up with a stunner in the 90th minute of the match when Steven Dias scored and gave India the lead.
Not content with just two goals, India scored another one in the injury time through Jeje who took his own goal tally to three, the highest in the tournament so far.
With this win India has virtually qualified for the AFC Challenge Cup 2012. So the next match against last edition runners up Turkmenistan on March 25, 2011 would not be of much significance from the Indian perspective.
Turkmenistan later today plays Chinese Taipei after thrashing Pakistan by 3-0 goals in their first game.
India Line-up: Subrata Paul, Govin Singh, Gourmangi Singh, N.S.Manju, Anwar, Steven Dias, Rakesh Masih, Jagpreet Singh, Syed Rahim Nabi ,Sunil Chhetri (C), Jeje Lalpekhulua
Pakistan Line-up: Amir Gul (GK); Faisal Iqbal, Zesh Rehman, Samar Ishaq (C), Manzoor Ahmed; Muhammad Adil, Syed Arif Hussain, Adnan Ahmed, Atif Bashir, Arif Mehmood, Rizwan Asif