It was goals galore at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune, where India suffered yet another home defeat, this time at the hands of their Western Asian opponents Yemen. Subrata Paul, who has been phenomenal for India for quite some time now, had a day he would quickly like to forget – as many as half a dozen goals went past him tonight.
It took only a few minutes for the visitors to settle into the game and they scored their first goal through an unmarked Haithm Thabit in the ninth minute when he pounced on Nabi’s clearance which had landed in front of him. The midfielder did not hesitate to finish from a close range.
Shortly after conceding, India suffered another blow when Clifford Miranda picked up an injury in only the 13th minute and had to be substituted. Steven Dias took his place on the field.
The defensive line of both the teams looked far from settled and an own goal by Yemen’s defender Aref Dali, who goofed up on Anthony Pereirra’s cross in the 20th minute, brought the game back in the balance. Yemen’s midfield was controlling the pace of the match; Indians on the other hand, except Chhetri and Pereirra, were struggling against the visitors. The hosts were rattled once again before the half-hour mark when Khaled Balied scored from outside the box after Climax and Baldeep had failed to close him down from taking the shot.
The first forty five minutes ended with a 2-1 scoreline in favour of the visiting team.
The men in blue went on the offensive right from the beginning of the second half, and their persistence paid dividends when Abhishek Yadav levelled the score for the home team, scoring off a brilliant cross by Dias just four minutes into the second period.
Juricic was forced to make a change after Basel Aqel got injured in a collision and Hezzam was brought on in his place. Bob Houghton rolled the dice for the last time when he made the remaining substitutions for the hosts in the 58th minute with Baldeep and Lawrence making way for Pradeep and Renedy.
All hell broke lose as the game crossed the hour mark and Yemen again broke the deadlock when Akram Wrafi scored from a brilliant strike to the corner of the net from outside the box.
India tried their best to equalize for the third time but luck was certainly not on their side when Chhetri’s powerful shot from a Dias’ cross hit the crossbar much to the agony of the Indian spectators. India almost scored from Surkumar’s strike but Yemen’s goalkeeper Ayash came to the rescue of his team. It was all India for nearly fifteen minutes after they went behind in the 61st minute, but in trying to do so they lost the focus at the back and went two goals down with a little less then a quarter of an hour left on the clock. Ala Sasi scored for 107th ranked visitors leaving no way back for Houghton’s boys. Sasi was not done for the night as he scored his second goal just couple of minutes before the end of stipulated time to rub some salt into the wounds of the Indian team.
Goals continued to come for both the sides in the injury time as Surkumar bagged a consolation goal in the 92nd minute but Yaser Ba Haj made sure that the visitors had the last laugh when he scored the sixth goal for his team and the 9th of the match.
Pratap Singh blew the final whistle in the 95th minute to bring an end to Indian team’s misery and had it not been for the own goal scored by Yemen in the 20th minute, the score line would have looked even more ominous.
Considering the fact that Indian national team will be playing the likes of Australia and South Korea in little less than three months, a scoreline of 3-6 against a team ranked in three digits paints a sorry picture.
TheHardTackle Player of the Match
Ala Sasi (Yemen)
His twin strikes late into the second half sank the Indian team and helped Yemen to stamp its authority over the match. His brace came against the run of play and knocked the breath out of the Indian team that had looked like scoring each time it launched an attack, after going down 2-3 at the hour mark.
India Starting Line-Up: Subrata Paul, Surkumar Singh, Gouramangi, Anwar Ali, Syed Nabi, Anthony PereirRa, Climax Lawrence, Baldeep Singh, Clifford Miranda, Abhishek Yadav, Sunil Chhetri
Subs: NP Pradeep, Renedy Singh, Steven Dias
Score: (OG) Dali 20′, Abhishek 49′, Surkumar 90+2′.
Yemen Starting Line Up: Mohammed Ebrahim Ayash, Basem Al Aqel, Mohammed Al Ammari, Haithm Thabit, Ali Al Nono (capt.), Munasser Ba Haj, Aref Thabit Al Dali, Akram Al Wrafi, Khaled Baled, Ala Al Sasi, Awsam Al Sayed
Subs: Hezzam, Abidi, Yaser Ba Haj
Score: Thabit 9′, Baleid 28′, Wrafi 61′, Sasi (77′, 88′), Yaser Ba Haj 90+3′