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AFC Challenge Cup - Qualifiers: India draw, top the group

India held Turkmenistan to a one-all draw in their last Group B qualifier for the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup at the MBJP Stadium, Petaling Jaya in Malaysia. With today’s draw both India and Turkmenistan finish on seven points, both have a goal difference of +5, but India scored a goal more so finish on top of the group; but both sides qualify for next years final.

As promised yesterday by Bob Houghton he made numerous changes to the starting eleven, bringing in seven new players with only Subrata Pal, Anwar, Syed Rahim Nabi and Jeje Lalpekhulua making a start from the team which faced Pakistan. Subrata led the team onto the field as captain for the first time, while for a number of youngsters it was the first-ever start for the senior national team.

The new formed Indian side needed time to settle down in a first half which both sides played cautiously with Turkmenistan having the better of the chances while Nabi had India’s only real chance of the half. It remained goalless at the break.

The match heated up after the break as Turkmenistan were awarded a controversial penalty in the 50th minute. Raju Gaikwad brought down Begli Annageldiyev, but there was confusion if it was inside or outside the box with the assistant referee waving his flag immediately for a penalty with the India players protesting. It didn’t help and Begli Annageldiyev himself took the spot kick and beat Subrata in goal. Again India were behind and once more the young side showed character as on the hour mark they equalised. And once more it was Jeje Lalpekhulua, who played a double pass with Joaquim Abranches before slotting home. It was the youngsters fourth goal in three matches, surely he was a key architect of India’s passage to the AFC Challenge Cup finals. Towards the end both sides looked happy with the point as nothing except topping the group was at stake.

After the game a proud Bob Houghton said, “It was good tournament for us, I am very much pleased with the performance of the team. It was very nice to win the matches with youngster in the side. And today down by a goal, the boys once again showed a fighting spirit and came back in the match.”

MATCH STATS

INDIA 1-1 (0-0) Turkmenistan – Goals: 0-1 Begli Annageldiyev (50′, penalty), 1-1 Jeje Lalpekhulua (60′)

INDIA: 1-Subrata Pal; 7-Denzil Michael Franco, 14-Raju Eknath Gaikwad, 5-Anwar, 17-Nalappan Mohanraj; 9-Joaquim Santan Abranches, 15-Jewel Shaikh Raja, 16-Shilton Sydney D’Silva, 22-Syed Rahim Nabi; 10-C.S. Sabeeth, 12-Jeje Lalpekhulua
Substitutes: 13-Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, 31-Jagroop Singh, 2-Govin Moirangthem Singh, 3-Nanjangud Shivananju Manju, 4-Rakesh Masih, 6-Baldeep Singh, 8-Nirmal Chetri, 11-Sunil Chhetri, 19-Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh, 23-Steven Benedic Dias, 29-Jagpreet Singh
Not in Squad: 18-Chongtham Sushil Kumar Singh

Referee: Mohammed Nafeez Bin Abdul Wahab (Malaysia)
Asst Referees: Jakhongir Saidov (Uzbekistan), Mohammed Hanif Abdul Bin Rahman (Malaysia)
Fourth official: Viktor Serazitdinov (Uzbekistan)
Match Commissioner: Manirul Islam (Bangladesh)
Referee Assessor: Yazbeck Yazbeck (Lebanon)

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