I-League: AIFF XI in 1-1 draw against ONGC

December 8th, 2010 - 8:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Gurgaon, Dec 8 (IANS) A spirited AIFF XI earned their first point in the football I-league as they came from a goal down to draw 1-1 with ONGC in their second round match here Wednesday.

Nigerian striker Badmus Babatunde gave ONGC the lead at the stroke of half-time while Jeje Lalpuklia fired the equaliser in the 78th minute at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium.

AIFF XI, launched by All India Football Federation (AIFF) to prepare under-19 and under-23 boys for the 2018 World Cup, showed promise but lacked the experience to convert free flowing moves into goals.

The colts showed enough aggression against the newly promoted ONGC, for whom it was mostly a one-man show with Babatunde leading the attack.

AIFF XI could have run away with a win in the dying minutes, but it was the bar that came in way of Shilton D’Silva’s well-directed header that kept goalkeeper Rajat Ghosh Dastidar stranded at the first post.

AIFF XI, coached by Englishman Desmond Bulpin, troubled the ONGC defence right from the start with Jeje and Malswamfela leading the attack. The duo, who were the stars of the SAFF Cup winning team, outpaced the ONGC defence with their quick sprints.

Jeje, a former Pune FC player, came close to open the scoring in the 10th minute, but his right-footer was easily saved by Rajat. Jeje again wasted a chance in the 30th minute, when he had just the goalkeeper to beat, but he chipped it too high and the ball flew above the bar. Two minutes later, Malswamfela squandered another as he shot wide.

ONGC got their first clear chance in the 35th minute when Babatunde made a solo run into the box and gave a square pass to Lalmuan Puia, who shot into the side-net.

ONGC took the breather with a 1-0 lead after skipper Jatin Bisht’s header found N.D. Opara, who gave a precise pass to his compatriot Babatunde. The Nigerian striker then spilt the AIFF XI defence and his right-footer went past goalkeeper Jagroop Singh.

AIFF XI stepped up the attack in the second half and finally drew parity when Jeje curled in from the top edge of the box and the ball kissed the far post on its way in.

Bulpin was happy with the performance of his boys, but said they played a better game against Chirag United that they lost 1-2.

“Today we played better in the first half. We played better against Chirag. But we should have won today’s match. We were better in attacking. What we lacked was an experience striker. With exposure in the league, the boys will be able to score more goals,” said Bulpin, a former youth coach at Tottenham Hotspurs and national coach of the Philippines.

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