Post Match Report: India out of Olympics despite playing their heart out

India 1-1 Qatar
India: Khaled Muftah(Own Goal,53')
Qatar: Mohamed Salah Elneel (74')

It was a spirited fight that Indian players put up against the visiting Qatar side. But despite a 1-1 draw, India is out of the Olympic Qualifiers. It could well have been a very different story had Lalrindika converted from penalty spot on 19th minute.

India started the proceedings well playing some crisp passes along the greenish turf which was a bit wet. Both sides were looking to attack from the word go but the hosts were looking more desperate to score. India had a chance to repeat the goal which was scored in Doha. Raju Gaikwad's long throw should have been converted to a goal, by Jeje again but unmarked Jeje somehow managed to miss that on the 12th minute. If that was a chance wasted, India got a golden chance on 19th minute when they got a penalty when a Qatari player handed the ball in the box. Lalrindika's shot from the spot was saved acrobatically by Qatari Goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb. After that miss, Indian players looked de-motivated. And the same old long ball game came to life. The defenders seemed to have only one job, "to kick the ball away". Wingers were hardly used. Even the Qatari team did not seemed impressive during the first half. Passes were chaotic to say the least. Meanwhile, some opportunities came along the way for both the team but defenders or goalkeepers were able to deal with those. One such opportunity came in the 40th minute, when Jeje did exceedingly well to attempt a lob from few yards outside the box, being challenged by two Qatari defenders, but Qatari Custodian was equal to the task, flicking it over the bar with his outstretched hands. Thus, the first half ended goalless.

The Qatari players looked more determined after the break, as they managed to take a shot from the right side of the box, but Kattimani saved the ball acrobatically. Indian team slowly gained more possession, and looked good at that time. Then came a rare sight, Goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb failed to trap a back pass from a Qatari defender, which rolled past the goal line on the 53rd minute. The fans could not believe their eyes, neither could the Indian players who witnessed the blunder. Suddenly, there were hopes of qualifying for the next round. An upset was on the cards. India pushed real hard for a goal. Few strong tackles were quite obvious. Qatari players were trying to cool down the heat, they often wasted few precious time to break the momentum of Indian team. Indian players didn't seem to stop by then. Defenders were playing out of their skin to say the least. The defence was spearheaded by Chirag United defender Arnab Mondal. But, one moment changed the whole scenario when El Neel, who was one of the scorer in the first leg, pulled one back, after volleying past Indian Custodian, of a cross from the right wing. He was left unmarked by Abhishek Das, who hardly made a mistake till then. If anybody thought that India would sit back and watch out the rest of the game, they were wrong. Coach Desmond Bulpin, changed the off colored Keralite C.S.Sabeeth with Manandeep Singh. That move, looked to have brought new life to the Indian attack. Earlier it was Jeje, who was standing up to the more physical Qatari defenders. But, Manandeep seemed to gel well with his Indian Arrows team mate, and he had also that physical presence that Sabeeth lacked desperately. But one must say, that the change was too late. 

One good aspect was, Indian team looked better in the last 10 minutes when attacking. They were looking to create the opportunities despite of the 'Hit and Run strategy'. Everybody saw, how the young team passed along the ground and one must say, it really looked good than the hopeless long ball strategy. Jeje got few opportunities to score, but he was let down by his finishing. The scoreline remained 1-1 when the referee put the game to halt.
Sabeeth, was out-muscled by Qatari defenders
C.S.Sabeeth: He was physically outdone by the strong Qatari Defenders. Hardly provided much support to Jeje. The young lad needs to work more on his physique. His replacement Manandeep looked good when brought on, but it was too late then.

Jeje had a mixed game, should have converted few goal bound chances

Jeje: Had a mixed game. Created few solid opportunities but failed to latch on some golden ones. Should have scored at least two goals. Sabeeth hardly provided him any support upfront. He has the built of a good forward despite being short. His balance is superb, no matter he is already tipped to be the next big thing of Indian Football.

Laxmikant Kattimani, One of the best performers for India in both matches

Laxmikant Kattimani: The goalkeeper was one of the best performer for Indian team in both the matches. Saved a penalty in the first match along with some miraculous saves. Wasn't tested that much in this match, but whenever required he came up with good saves. This guy looks set to have a great future.
Arnab Mondal, Man of the Match Performance from the Defender, Played his heart out

Arnab Mondal: He was easily India's Man of the Match Today. Made some spectacular tackles whenever required. Was looking very confident on ball in the defence. Looked to have a great understanding with skipper Raju Gaikwad.

India's defence was one of the best looking department today. They kept the opposition forwards at bay except for one rare moment. Hardly let the Qatari forwards to step inside the box. Hats off to a wonderful performance by the defense. It will be hard to digest for some but one must say that India Outplayed Qatar today.

Indian Youngsters showed that they are no pushovers and a 1-1 draw against a Qatari side which have prepared so hard, is as good as a victory. After this performance, One can surely hope big from Indian Football, provided they keep the ball in the turf more and stop the Hit And Run strategy. 

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About Debraj Banerjee

Hi, I am Debraj Banerjee from Adra, West Bengal. A keen follower of Indian football and always an optimist that the game will get the recognition it truely deserves. What we ask from you is your support and one day the dream might turn true. Fingers crossed for Indian football. Cheers!

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