India falter against Palestine

India falter against Palestine

Football International friendly: Hosts squander lead to suffer 2-4 loss

Playing their first international match at home after the Nehru Cup, India suffered a 2-4 defeat against Palestine in a friendly at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Wednesday.

Clifford Miranda and Syed Rahim Nabi scored for India in the 17th and the 39th minutes respectively. For Palestine, Ashraf Alfawaghra scored three goals while Husam Abusalah struck the other goal.

Arata Izumi became the first Person of Indian origin to play for the country in the match.

India were the better side in the first half and went into the interval enjoying a 2-1 lead but Palestine struck twice within three minutes after resumption and the hosts were never in the picture after that.

India, cheered on by almost 40,000 spectators, started on a positive note and troubled Palestine repeatedly. Alwyn George and captain Sunil Chhetri combined well upfront, testing the Palestine defence.

India surged ahead in the 17th minute. Alwyn snaked in between a couple of rival defenders but his left-footer was palmed away by goalkeeper Tawfiq Abuhammad only for Miranda to blast it in.  

However, the lead only lasted 13 minutes when much against the run of play, Ashraf volleyed in an Abdulhamid Abuhabib centre.

Nabi then ensured the Mexican wave in the stands made a comeback, that too within nine minutes, when he leapt over the defenders to head in Mehtab Hossain’s corner.

India went into the interval with a 2-1 lead. But it was a different story in the second half. Soon after resumption, Palestine made it 2-2, with Husam heading in a corner. The very next minute, Palestine were 3-2 up, Ashraf converting from the spot.  

Arata made his debut for India in the 63rd minute coming in for Lenny Rodrigues. Two minutes later, Palestine made it 4-2 with Ashraf shaking off his marker and moving up to strike his third goal.

India had a chance in the 73rd minute but a Jewel Raja volley from the top of the box narrowly missed the mark.

National coach Wim Koevermans did effect more substitutions in the second half but Palestine held onto the lead.

Earlier, the AIFF Player of the Year Award was handed over to Syed Rahim Nabi by Koevermans. Nabi received a silver plaque and a cheque for Rs 2 lakh.

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