India go down 2-4

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By (PTI)
  • Published 7.02.13
Syed Rahim Nabi

Kochi: Playing their first international match at home after the Nehru Cup, India suffered a 2-4 defeat against Palestine in a friendly football game at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, on Wednesday.

Clifford Miranda and Syed Rahim Nabi scored for India in the 17th and the 39th minute, respectively, while for Palestine, Ashraf Alfawaghra scored a hat-trick while Husam Abusalah scored the other goal.

If India were by far the better side in the first half and went into the interval enjoying a 2-1 lead; the brace scored by Alfawaghra within three minutes after resumption never allowed India to come back into the match.

In the first half, the hosts, cheered on by almost 40,000 spectators, started on a positive note. The calm in defence, the composure in the midfield and the interchanging between the front two, Alwyn George and captain Sunil Chetri upfront, rattled the strong Palestine side, which had fielded nine players who did duty for them in the West Asia Cup in December 2012.

Playing in only his second international match, Alwyn looked mature beyond his age. The under-22 India player stayed away from his markers forcing the rival midfield to look a bit yawning. There were short-passes as much there was switching as much there was interchanging. The team adjusted according to the situation — slowing the procedure when needed and pressing the accelerator the very next moment. Palestine were never allowed to settle down.

India took the lead in the 17th minute. Alwyn snaked in between a couple of rival defenders but his left-footer was palmed away by goalkeeper Tawfiq Abuhammad only for Clifford Miranda to blast it in. However, the lead lasted 13 minutes when much against the run of play Alfawaghra volleyed in an Abdulhamid Abuhabib centre.

Nabi ensured the Mexican wave made a comeback, that too within nine minutes, when he leaped over all to head in Mehtab Hossain’s corner. India went into the interval with a 2-1 lead. But it was a different story in the second half.

Immediately after resumption, Palestine equalised to make it 2-2. Hasam Abusalah heading in a corner in the 46th minute, which was the first attack of the second half. The very next minute, Palestine were 3-2 up, Ashraf converting from the spot.

Arata Izumi made his debut for India in the 63rd minute coming on for Lenny Rodrigues. But two minutes later, Palestine made it 4-2.

India’s first chance in the second half came in the 73rd minute but a Jewel Raja volley from the top of the box narrowly missed the mark.

Coach Wim Koevermans did bring in more substitutions in the second half including local lad CK Vineet but Palestine held onto the lead.