India bow out of Olympic qualifiers after 1-1 draw

Pune: India paid the price of wasting a
crucial penalty as could only manage a 1-1 draw against
much-fancied Qatar thus crashing out of the Olympic football
qualifiers here on Thursday.

India went into the second leg of the Olympic qualifiers
second round needing a 2-0 win to make it to the final round
having lost 1-3 in Doha in an away match and Lalrindika
Ralte`s miss from the spot kick in the 19th minute proved
costly for Desmond Bulpin`s U-23 boys.

The home side went ahead in the 53rd minute with Qatar
conceding an own goal and had it been 2-0 at that stage, India
could have tried defending the scoreline. In the end, however,
Qatar went through the final round on 4-2 aggregate.

Today, Qatar did not have the kind of upperhand they had
enjoyed at home on June 19. This was mainly due to dealy in
their arrival as they didn`t get requisite clearance earlier
to land their chartered flight at the Pune airport.

Qatar were slightly the better team in the first half but
it was difficult to separate the two sides in the second
session with India getting a few opportunities.

Despite failing to advance to the final round, Desmond
Bulpin`s boys will thus end their campaign with their heads
held high.

Bulpin began with the same XI that played in Doha and the
5000-strong crowd at the Shiv Chhatrapati Stadium at Balewadi
here were on their feet when India were awarded a penalty in
the 19th minute after Jeje Lalpekhlua`s shot was handled by
Murad Naji.

However, Lalrindika`s low left-footer was brilliantly
saved by Qatar goalkeeper Al Sheeb to the stunned silence of
the home fans.

Al Sheeb, however, turned villian in the 53rd minute when
his costly mistake helped India gain lead. Khaled Muftah sent
in a backpass from the right flank but Al sheeb let the
innocous ball slip with Jibon Singh charging at him.

Sensing the chance of making it to the final round with
another goal, India pressed hard and Jeje should have done the
job for India in the 73rd minute but he disappointed the
sizeable crowd.

Jeje, who had scored the lone goal for India in their 1-3
loss in the first leg, was all alone inside Qatar box but his
feeble angular left-footer went straight to the goalkeeper.

As if India were penalised for Jeje`s mistake, Qatar
equalised in the next minute (74th) to seal their place in the
final round.

Following a throw-in from the right flank, Fadhl Omar
sent a perfect floater for Mohamed Salah Elnee on the left and
the later, who was left free inside the box by Abhishek Das,
sent the ball past goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani with a first
time shot that crashed into the net.

Bulpin Singh brought in tall Manandeep Singh in place of
striker C S Sabeeth in the 69th minute and Jagtar Singh for
Abhishek Das in the 90th minute but those changes did not have
much impact for the home side`s cause.


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