India go down fighting to Thailand 1-2, denied penalty

New Delhi: India were denied an injury time
penalty as they went down fighting to Thailand 1-2 in their
second international football friendly match here on Wednesday.

The home side dominated the match for most part but some
defensive lapses and lack of finishing put paid to their hopes
of taking revenge of the 0-1 loss to the same opponent in
Bangkok on Saturday.

They were also denied a penalty by Indian referee Pratap
Singh in injury time when regular captain Bhaichung Bhutia,
who replaced an unimpressive Mohammad Rafi in the 71st minute,
was clearly brought down by a Thai defender.

The referee blew the whistle but he chose to give a
free-kick from just outside the box and India failed to score
from the set piece.

An enraged Bhaichung virtually dragged the referee and
remonstrated to the assistant referee for which he was shown
the yellow card.

Bhaichung, who lifted the Indian attack to several
notches up after his entry with some fine attempts, also made
known his displeasure to the match officials even after the
game, which is a part of India`s build-up to AFC Asian Cup in
Qatar in January.

For Thailand, who fielded a mix of senior and Under-23
players, Winothai Teerathep and Keawsombat Keerati scored in
the 48th and 65th minutes respectively while N P Pradeep found
the target for India in the 60th minute at Ambedkar Stadium
which saw heavy downpour just before the match.

Bob Houghton`s boys made use of slow build-ups to attack
and had more possession inside the opposition half but the
quick attacks through short passes by the Thais created
problems for the Indian back four of Gouramangi Singh, Anwar
Ali, Mahesh Gawli and Surkumar Singh.

The keenly contested match was played under floodlights
with most part under incessant drizzle.

The Thais, who have come here with five senior players as
they are a building a side for the November Asian Games, made
the initial thrust and striker Winothai Teerathep got a fine
chance in the second minute of the match itself but his right
footer from the top of the box went straight to Indian
goalkeeper Subrata Paul.

The home side settled down quickly and gradually took
control of the game and they got their best chance of the
first half but striker Mohammad Rafi failed to finish.

Rafi, playing second international match of his career,
had only the Thai goalkeeper to beat after a lapse by visiting
side defender Phukhom Suttinun but his left footer went wide.

Thailand retaliated quickly and three minutes later
striker Keawsombat Keerati`s header off a corner kick hit the
right post.

The visiting side were also denied by the woodwork in the
35th minute when left winger Dechmitr Wichaya sent a powerful
shot from well outside the box which came back into play after
hitting the crossbar.

At the added time of the first half, India were again
saved by the crossbar. This time left back Samana Nattaphong`s
35-meter hit shook the crossbar.

In the second half also, India dominated with more
threatening moves and possession at the rival half but failed
to find the final pass.

They attacked mostly from the left side with captain
Climax Lawrence in the thick of things in tandem with Gawli
and untiring Anthony Pereira.

The home side also got some free-kicks from very crucial
positions but could not convert them into goals.

Third minute into the second half Thailand scored with
Teerathep chipping over out-of-line Indian custodian Paul as
the Indian defence was caught napping from a quick interchange
of passes.

India equalised in the 60th minute from a three-player

Anthony Pereira`s cross from the right was headed down by
Sunil Chhetri and off the rebound from a Thai defender,
Pradeep slotted the ball home to the celebration of the

Thailand took just five minutes to take the lead again
with India conceding a soft goal.

Teerathep`s first time header off a cross from the left
beat the Indian goalkeeper Paul and his strike partner
Keerati, who was left unmarked inside the penalty area, nodded
home off the rebound from the crossbar.

India pressed hard for an equaliser and Bhaichung`s entry
made India looking sharper upfront but the Thais stood firm to
the disappointment of a sizeable crowd of more than 5000.