Kuala Lumpur: India played out a 1-1 draw with Turkmenistan in their final group match of the AFC Challenge Cup qualifying round at the MBPJ Stadium on Friday.
Begi Annageldiyev put Turkmenistan ahead with his 50th
minute strike before Jeje Lalpekhlua struck the equaliser 10
The draw was enough for the Bob Houghton-coached side to
finish at the top of the table with seven points, while
Turkmenistan, who also scored seven points from three matches,
India finished on top on the basis of better goal
India made seven changes from the team that played
against Pakistan, and the youngsters were up for the task.
The defending champions started with Subrata Pal in goal,
who also had the privilege to captain the side today, with
Denzil Franco, Raju Gaekwad, Anwar and Mohanraj manning the
Joaquim Abranches, Shilton D`Silva, Jewel Raja and Syed
Rahim Nabi took care of the midfield, while C S Sabeeth and
Jeje Lalpekhlua partnered up front.
Both the teams started on a cautious note but it was
Turkmenistan who came close to scoring initially.
Begi Annageldiyev`s shot in the 15th minute was off
target, while Subrata Pal pulled off a great save in the 25th
minute to deny Gurbani Amir.
Syed Rahim Nabi`s shot from 30 yard went over the
woodwork as both teams went to breather with the scoreline
After the break, it was Turkmenistan who broke the
deadlock through a spot-kick. Begi, who was brought down
inside the box by Gaekwad, converted the penalty to put his
team in front in the 50th minute.
The Indians once again showed great character as they
fought back through Jeje`s strike in the 60th minute.
Jewel essayed the ball to Joaquim Abranches who passed
the ball to Jeje just outside the box on the right.
It was Jeje`s fourth goal in three matches.
In the 85th minute, Jeje once again came close to
scoring, but his right-footer missed the target by whisker.
"It was good tournament for us. I am very pleased with
the performance of the team," Houghton said after the match.
"It was very nice to win the matches with youngsters in
the side. Down by a goal, the boys once again showed fighting
spirit and came back in the match," the Englishman added.