Classy Cameroonians hand India first defeat

Football Nehru Cup: Africans post 1-0 victory in final league encounter

Cameroon warmed up for the Nehru Cup football final with a 1-0 victory over India at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Friday.

The two teams are scheduled to meet in the final on Sunday and if the peformance in this league match is anything to go by, India find themselves facing a tall task. Even though Bite Samuel’s goal (2nd minute) was the difference between the two sides in the final outcome, Cameroon was notches above India in their technical and tactical play.

Both the teams chose to go with their second string players. Cameroon made eight changes and India five with Denil Michael Franco, Gurwinder Singh, goalkeeper Karanjeet Singh, Manandeep Singh and Jewel Raja Shaikh finding themselves in the starting XI. Gourmangi Singh led the side in place of Sunil Chhetri.

The Africans struck in the second minute of the match when Samuel collected a long pass following a fine run. Goumangi tried to keep pace him but Samuel beat him for pace before slotting past Karanjeet.

Indians slugged it out but found it difficult to keep possession. Syed Rahim Nabi and Clifford Miranda did the a good job of anchoring the midfield but forward Manandeep Singh, playing his first match for the senior side, struggled to find his way past a formidable defence line-up.

Denzil Franco at right-back did a good job. He created a fine opportunity, sending a crisp cross towards Manandeep, whose header went wide off the post. Cameroon, in the 39th minute, looked set to increase their lead when Nabi brought down Eloundou inside the penalty box. Ebanga Bertin, however, messed up the penalty strike, his weak shot easily saved by Karanjeet.

The hosts made a spirited start in the second half and created several chances but their finishing remained poor. An opportunity for an equaliser was missed when India earned a corner kick. Sanju Pradhan curled in a fine shot but Syed Nabi headed it over the bar.

However, it was Franciscio Fernandes who came the closest. Pradhan broke from the
right wing and sent a cross to Fernandes whose header went straight to hands of goalkeeper Nkessi Hosea.

India upped the ante midway in the second half but it never proved enough to match Cameroon.

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