India squander lead, suffer 1-2 loss to Qatar

Guangzhou: India let in two goals in the last
10 minutes after leading 1-0 to suffer a heartbreaking 1-2
loss to defending champions Qatar in their second group match
of the Asian Games football competition here on Tuesday.

India, who lost 0-2 to Kuwait in their opening match,
produced an impressive show and took the lead in the 18th
through Dharmaraj Ravanan, who headed in a flag kick.

Sukhvinder Singh`s boys dictated terms on their fancied
opponents in the first half but conceded two late goals to end
the match empty handed. Striker Jaralla Ali struck twice in
the 80th and 88th minutes to break the hearts of the Indians.

Both the goals came after first choice goalkeeper
Laxmikant Kattimani had to be replaced by Gurpreet Singh
Sandhu as the former suffered an injury in a collision with
Qatari midfielder Saleh Mohamed during a scramble for the ball
minutes after the resumption of second half.

Not wanting to take any chances, Kattimani was taken to a
local hospital for MRI scan and he was ruled out of any
serious problems.

Gurpreet was found out of position when Jaralla sent a
looping header into the empty Indian goal for the equaliser in
the 80th minute.

Sukhvinder brought in striker Jagtar Singh in place of
Balwant Singh in the 83rd minute but that did not make much
difference in the Indian attack.

Instead, India conceded a goal two minutes before the
regulation time with Jaralla`s left footer from the edge of
the box finding the target.

The Indians went all out for a desperate equaliser in the
last few minutes and four minutes of injury time but to no

India will now have to beat Singapore in their last Group
D game on Thursday if they want to make it to the knock-out
stage of the under-23 competition.

The top two teams from each of four groups and the four
best third-placed teams will qualify for the Round of 16.

Three Indians -- Rowlinson Rodrigues, Robert Lalthlamuana
and Khagembam Jibon -- were also booked for rough play.

Coach Sukhvinder Singh started with the same eleven that
began against Kuwait. Jeje Lalpekhlua was in the starting
line-up despite a below par performance against Kuwait.

Sukhvinder was happy with the performance of his boys and
rued that they ended without any points.

"We really played well today, much better than the Kuwait
match. We created many chances and the way boys played in the
first half, it was a treat to watch," Sukhvinder said.

"We were unfortunate to concede two quick goals, which
could have been avoided for sure. We also missed two sitters,
Balwant missed a one-to-one chance, which could have changed
the whole course of the game. On the whole, I am very much
pleased with today`s performance," he said.

"We are still not out of contention for a knock-out
berth. We have to beat Singapore now," added the former JCT

Asked about Kattimani`s injury, Sukhvinder said, "We have
done an MRI on him and the team doctor said there is nothing
serious. His neck and spine are safe."