| Action during the TFA White-Iran match at the JRD Tata Cup in Jamshedpur on Monday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Jamshedpur: TFA White and Iran were locked in a 1-1 draw in a keenly-contested match of the JRD Tata Cup international invitational football tournament at the JRD Tata Sports Complex on Monday.
Milad Nori put the visitors ahead in the second half while the Indians equalised through H.R. Mondol.
The Iranians were reduced to 10 players in the second-half after Syed Shahabaldin Mirmoshtaghi was shown the second yellow card for rough play by referee Surendra Sikhrakar.
Despite the handicap, the visitors maintained a vice-like grip over the proceedings.
The first-half ended goalless. After a listless 20 minutes, there was a rush for goals. The visitors could have got the lead half-an-hour into the first-half had striker Mohammad Niknafs’ shot not been weak.
The magic of Malswama was missing today as the brilliant Manipuri striker failed to initiate things. The five-member Indian defence also looked slack. Strikers Malswama, Vanlal Rova and Manahar Dharani were also lacking in enthusiasm. All this plus the height of the Iranians weighed down the home team. The absence of Marlengi Suiting was also badly felt.
Coach Stephen Constantine said after the match that Suiting will be out of the tournament because of a twisted right knee. He was injured in the first match against Bangladesh.
The visiting side players were fast and more strongly-built than the home team. They played with a definite purpose and made several moves which were somehow thwarted by the Indian defence.
TFA White outfit came close to taking the lead when Jerry Zirsanga’s swerving free-kick in the 31st minute was punched away just in time. Later, a powerful right-footer from Malswama was well saved by Iran goalkeeper Seyed Mahdi Eslami.
The Iranians got three possible scoring opportunities thanks to some good work by Nader Ahmed from the right. The winger displayed superb control and fed accurate passes to the forwards.
The second-half was virtually in Iran’s control as some quick moves posed imminent danger to the Indian goal.
Iran struck in the 58th miunute when Ali Reza Begherinia’s lob was banged in to the right of goalkeeper Subrata Paul by skipper Milad Nori.
Begherinia, who came as a substitute, made his presence felt. The home team was now pressing for the equaliser. It came when a Zirsanga free-kick from the right was headed home by H.R. Mondol in the 74th minute.