Friday, Sep 12, 2003
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By S. Sabanayakan
India TFA Blue striker S. Kuttimani (right) trying to get past Bangladesh goalkeeper Khaled Mohammad Azem in the opening encounter of the J.R.D. Tata Cup interntional (under-19) football tournament at Jamshedpur on Thursday. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish
Reduced to 10 players with 32 minutes to go in the game, India Blue waged a grim battle before Suiting's goal materialised. Off a breakaway, India Blue striker S. Kuttimani was blocked by the Bangladesh defence and a direct freekick was awarded just outside the box on the left.
"We have been training to take such freekicks and I was confident of hitting the target,'' recalled the India Blue skipper during the post-match press conference. As left-back Sumit Thapa made a dummy run, Suiting swiftly unleashed a swerving right-footer to the roof of the net. It was perfect in its execution and placement.
India Blue dominated the first half, totally controlling the midfield. Spraying passes to the wings and running into position to receive, the Indian attack moved with terrific rhythm. The original left-back, Khentag Paite, was in the thick of action with his pacy overlaps and promptings from the midfield.
Bangladesh suffered due to lack of co-ordination. Passes were never released and there were gaping holes in the defence and midfield. India Blue made full use of these and enjoyed a major portion of the exchanges. Yet, the territorial domination was not translated into goals, as the Indian side messed up its chances in the first quarter.
A Paite flagkick from the right flew tantalisingly into the box, beating a leaping Bangladesh goalkeeper Khaled Mohammad Azam. Indian striker Manohar Dharani, however, failed to tap home. Bangladesh survived another close call following a poor backpass by defender Ahsanur Rahman. Once again, Dharani reacted slowly and allowed the goalkeeper to foil the attempt.
India Blue's first goal came in the 18th minute thanks to the opportunism shown by Paite. After Dharani set his strike partner Kuttimani upfront, the latter's shot rebounded off a defender. Paite, having overlapped intelligently, sprinted into the box to place home.
Just before the final quarter in the first half, Suiting sent a defence splitting pass to Dharani. The striker, anticipating the pass, moved in for the kill. With just the goalkeeper to beat, Dharani surprisingly shot wide.
Just a few minutes remained in the first half when Bangladesh's reply came. A sluggish Indian defence failed to anticipate a sharp through ball into the box. Mohammad Anower Hussain saw the opening and slammed a right-footer, giving Indian goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury no chance.
The Indians had a fine opportunity to go ahead in the dying minutes of the first half but a goalline save by Ahsanur Rahman enabled Bangladesh go into halftime 1-1.
The second half saw a dramatic change in Bangladesh's approach. It showed better understanding, passes were sharper and its forward movement had a sense of purpose. This brought pressure on the Indian defence.
Off a breakaway, India Blue stopper Warun Deep pulled down Anower Hussain and was sent out with a red card booking. Reduced to 10, the Indians fought back and kept the Bangladesh raids at bay before Suiting's freekick did the trick.
Friday's match: Uzbekistan vs Iran.
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