Unimpressive India go down 1-2 to Thailand in football friendly (Lead)

September 8th, 2010 - 11:10 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 8 (IANS) An unimpressive India went down 1-2 to a young Thailand side in the return leg of a friendly international football match at the Ambedkar Stadium here on a rainy Wednesday.
Even an indisposed Bhaichung Bhutia, who took the field in the 70th minute, could not save India from losing their second match to Thailand. Indian had lost 0-1 in the first leg in Bangkok, Saturday.

Winothai Teerathap and Keawsombat Keerati were on target for Thailand, mostly comprising under-23 players, in the 49th and the 65th minute while N.P. Pradeep scored from the goalmouth melee for India’s solitary goal in the 61st minute.

After an unimpressive performance by strikers Mohammad Rafi and Sunil Chettri in the first half, chief coach Bob Houghton had no other option but to bring on Bhutia, who is recuperating from his thyroid problems and was doubtful to feature in any international till the end of this month.

The Indian captain changed the tempo of the match in the last 20 minutes much to the joy of some seven thousand spectators, who braved heavy downpour to support the home team.

Bhutia nearly scored the equaliser for India in the injury time with his attempted bicycle kick and was denied a penalty in the dying minutes of the game after he was brought down in the box by Suttinun Phukom.

Indian referee Pratap Singh was not convinced that Bhutia was fouled and decided against giving the spot-kick. A furious Bhutia calmed down after he was shown a yellow card for over protesting.

Thailand took the lead from a counterattack when an unmarked Teerathap ran from the centre and lobbed it past goalkeeper Subrata Paul in the 47th minute. Pradeep scored the equaliser from a rebound after Chettri’s header was saved by goalkeeper Kawin Thamasatchanan. Keerati scored the winner in the 65th minute after he headed in a rebound from the post.

It was an expected scoreline, and India in fact were lucky to end the fist half goalless. Had it not been for the heroics of Paul and some luck, Thailand would have taken a 3-0 lead before the breather.

In the first half, there was hardly any co-ordination between Rafi and Chettri. Churchill Brothers striker Rafi hardly showed the intent for a challenge to snatch the ball from the Thai defenders while Kansas City striker Chettri just could not find his bearings right.

Rafi wasted the first chance that came India’s way in the 17th minute when he raced into the box after latching on to a through pass from the centre and shot wide.

Paul was at his best with acrobatic saves and got praise from Thai coach and England legend Bryan Robson.

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