News Article

India win first international away friendly in 12 years

Written by: Mrunal Nakashe

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The Blue Tigers beat Cambodia in a seesawing friendly clash in Phnom Penh earlier today....

India sealed a 2-3 win against Cambodia after a thrilling friendly clash played in Phnom Penh earlier today (22nd March). This was the Blue Tigers’ first away win in over a decade. 

The Indians started brightly as in the 2nd minute itself CK Vineeth burst down the right and sent in a cross which was cleared by Baraing. Cambodia answered four minutes later as Samouen on the overlap found Vathanaka whose dummy to Udom was well anticipated and cleared by Anas Edathodika. The first big chance fell to the hosts 8 minutes into the game as Polroth’s free-kick from inside his own half picked out Vathanaka. He flashed it across the face of goal and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s initial save fell straight at the feet of skipper Cheary who smashed it over.

At 17 minutes, Pritam Kotal continued India’s sloppy play as he gave the ball away in his own half. Laboravy pounced and found Vathanaka but his shot was straight at the keeper. The Indians responded three minutes later through a brilliant team move that deserved a goal. Sunil Chhetri picked out Daniel who found Vineeth. The winger then played in Kotal on the overlap but his low cross was missed by both Fulganco Cardozo and Robin Singh as the Cambodians cleared their lines.

On 28 minutes, the hosts missed another golden opportunity to take the lead. Udom’s corner was missed by the keeper, but Visal couldn’t turn it in at the far post.

A measure of the visitors’ shambolic first half was that Jackichand Singh was brought on for a sorry Vineeth on 35 minutes. As it was they took the lead immediately after. A corner was completely missed by Serei in the Cambodian goal and Chhetri produced one of the easiest finishes he will ever get. In keeping with the comic nature of their performance, though, the Blue Tigers conceded straight after the restart. Udom burst down the left and as Arnab Mondal backed off he sent in a low cross to Labarovy who beat Gurpreet at the near post to make it all square.

In the very next minute, Vathanaka went down in the box under the challenge of Cardozo but the referee waved play on. Well into first half added time, Kotal almost gifted the Cambodians the lead. The full-back trieed a back header off a cross aimed for Visal that nearly went into his own goal with the keeper out of position.

The teams went into the break level but Cambodia should have been comfortably in the lead and over the hills.

India boss Stephen Constantine rang the changes at half-time hoping for a much better performance. Sandesh Jhingan replaced Mondal at the back while Jeje Lalpekhlua came in for Daniel upfront. The move paid instant dividends as the Indians retook the lead five minutes after the break. Jackichand cut in from the left and squeezed past two defenders before picking out Lalpekhlua who slot it beyond the advancing keeper. Soon after it was 3-1 to India. Robin was put through on goal by lovely pass by Lyngdoh but he shot it straight at the keeper. However, off the resulting corner Jhingan converted with a powerful header.

Match Highlights : Cambodia 2-3 India 

Jackichand cut in from the left and squeezed past two defenders before picking out Lalpekhlua who slot it beyond the advancing keeper. Soon after, it was 3-1 to India. Robin was put through on goal by a lovely pass from Lyngdoh but he shot it straight at the keeper. However, of the resulting corner, Jhingan converted with a powerful and well-placed header.

The see-sawing affair continued as the hosts pulled one back though Vathanaka just past the hour mark. He picked up the ball just outside the box and smashed one into the far bottom corner as Gurpreet was unable to get across on time. On 64 minutes Labarovy was once again through on goal, but Cardozo came in with a well-timed tackle before he could shoot. On 72 minutes, another Vathanaka’s strike bounced in front of Gurpreet, but he did well to parry it away for a corner.

In the last 15 minutes Cambodia brought on Kek, Phallin and Souk looking for an equaliser. On 78 minutes Samouen tried a long diagonal looking for Vathanaka but Gurpreet got there first. The last chance of the game came on 85 minutes for Cambodia as the impressive Samouen found Labarovy, but couldn’t get the ball out of his feet with only the keeper to beat.   

There were five minutes of added time in the second half but the Cambodians were out on their feet and struggled to create any more opportunities in pursuit of the leveller.

It was performance than left the Indians with more questions than answers and while his substitutions worked a treat Constantine has much to think about ahead if the AFC Asian Cup Qualifier against Myanmar on 28th March.

 

Published: Thu Mar 23, 2017 01:54 PM IST

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