| Action during the TFA Blues-Bangladesh match in the JRD Tata Cup in Jamshedpur on Thursday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Jamshedpur: Skipper Suiting Lekiniís classy free-kick helped India TFA Blues edge out an inexperienced Bangladesh outfit in the opening match of the JRD Tata Cup under-19 football tournament at the JRD Tata Sports Complex on Thursday.
Lekiniís gentle lob in the 85th minute swerved a bit before slipping into the left corner of the net. The match, marked by frayed tempers, saw both sides battling to gain initial advantage.
The referee had to warn two Bangladesh players and a home team defender was given marching orders.
Playing 4-4-2, the Bangladesh defence was exposed time and again with the TFA boys building up the pressure.
For most of the first-half, the ball hovered in the visiting teamís half.
TFA midfielder Khentang Paite drew first blood in the 18th minute pushing the ball in off a rebound. The strongly-built Paite took full advantage of a goalmouth melee after centre-forward Manahar Dharani missed a sitter.
The goal pepped up the TFA brigade and it could easily have been 2-0 if Lekini not missed a Paite cross from the left.
Another opportunity was wasted when striker S Kuttimanni reacted late and his left-footer went wide. He again failed to convert a Paite cross from the left in the 25th minute.
With the ball confined to the Bangladesh half, the home teamís defenders started taking things lightly. And the crack in the home team defence was soon exposed off a counter attack.
Receiving a short cross from the left, striker Mohammed Anower Hussain banged in the equaliser in the 43rd minute. The teams went into the breather, tied at 1-1.
The visitors improved their game several notches in the second session and had things well under control. However, they resorted to rough play and even argued with the referee Natthanal Phaengsupha on more than one occasion. But it was Warun Deep of TFA who was given marching orders in the 53rd minute.
With time running out, the Jamshedpur team tried to go for the kill. They adopted an attacking strategy but things didnít go according to plan. They looked tired and it seemed that a draw is on the cards.
But Lekini saved the day.
TFA earned a free-kick ó after Lekini was pushed by a rival defender. The Meghalaya midfielder lit up the huge turn-out when his shot went past the Bangladesh wall and settled in the net.
ďI have been practising the free-kick regularly, today it came in handy,Ē an ecstatic Lekini said.