Hyderabad: Innomov Islam scored a goal in injury time as Uzbekistan stunned India 1-0 in the football final of the inaugural Afro-Asian Games at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium here on Friday night.
In a keenly fought encounter, favourites India failed to score against Uzbekistan who played well despite having come with their U-20 squad.
Uzbekistan had the upperhand for most part with good interception and made several forays into the Indian goal, keeping them under pressure. But the hosts’ defence and goalkeeper Sangaram Mukherjee held their nerves till Islam surprised with a long-range rightfooter just as the seconds were ticking away in the one-minute injury time.
The result came as a bolt from the blue to India who put up an impressive performance in the tournament. It also dashed veteran I.M. Vijayan’s hopes of ending his international career on a high. Vijayan still emerged the top scorer in the tournament with the four goals.
Both Vijayan, who was replaced in the second half with Asim Biswas, and captain Bhaichung Bhutia had a few shots at the goal. The Indians created several openings in the second half, but could not score.
Vijayan came out clapping his hands and was given a hug by coach Stephen Constantine.
The match began on a dramatic note with India claiming a goal in the first minute itself after a throw in by Selwyn Fernandes. The ball appeared to have gone straight without touching Jo Paul Ancheri who was inside the box.
In the sixth minute, Vijayan came up with a header, but Uzbekistan goalkeeper Nesterov Ignatiy just managed to trip it over the bar. Ten minutes later, Uzbekistan’s forward Geynrikh Alexander, who starred in most of the attacks, took a shot at the goal, but Mukherjee put it out of harm’s way.
India had another good chance in the 25th minute when a diving Rennedy Singh shot went wide following a pass from Jatin Singh Bisht. A few minutes later, Tomba Singh sent in a cracking right-footer but the Uzbek ’keeper collected it neatly.
In the second half, the Indians played better and created more openings. Vijayan took a couple of more shots but could not find the target. Uzbekistan also had a few chances. In the 78th minute, Alexander came up with a good right-footer, but Mukherjee just managed to clear it.