India draw Myanmar 1-1, move into Olympic qualifiers 2nd Rd

The Indian under 23 side, who had beaten Myanmar 2-1 in their home leg match in Pune 2-1 on February 23, won the first round tie on 3-2 aggregate.

Striker C S Sabeeth, who came in place of Inderpreet Singh in the 83rd minute, got the equaliser for India in the 90th minute after Kyaw Koko had given Myanmar the lead in the
64th minute at Youth Training Centre ground in Yangon.

A 0-1 defeat would have sent India out of the competition on away goal rule.

India had got the better of Myanmar in the first round of 2008 Olympic qualifiers before finishing last in a four-team group in the second round.

Coach Desmond Bulpin had to bring in Sabeeth as the third striker in place of defender
Inderpreet in a desperate bid to get the equaliser and his ploy worked.

After collecting a long ball from the middle of the park, Sabeeth cut in from the right side of Myanmar half to beat the home side goalkeeper with a fierce shot seconds before the end of normal time.

India and 10 other countries, who won their first round ties, now join the 13 highest ranked teams of Asia in the second round, where they will again play in a home-and-away format on June 19 and June 23.

After a barren first half, Myanmar, egged on by nearly 20,000 crowd at the stands, took the lead with Koko beating Indian goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu with a free kick.

But two minutes later, Koko was red carded after his second booking of the match, and India had the one-man advantage in the last 25 minutes of the match.

Immediately afterwards, Bulpin brought in striker Robin Singh in place of Malswamfela to give fresh impetus in attack.

Bulpin praised the fighting spirit of his boys in front of a sizeable hostile crowd.

"We knew it would be a tough match. No doubt, the Myanmarese were technically better than our boys. But my boys came out with flying colours with 1-1 draw in front of 20,000 hostile crowd. We also missed three good chances," Bulpin said after the match.

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