AFC Challenge Cup 2012: Tajikistan make a mockery of India

India 0-2 Tajikistan
Tajikistan: Khamarokulov Akhtam(60th), Davronov Nuriddin(66th)

The performance that the "Blue Tigers" put today at the Dasarath Stadium against Tajikistan in the AFC Challenge Cup 2008 could be easily adjudged as one of the weakest in quite a few years. India lacked strategy, commitment and most importantly the hunger to win the match. Never it looked as if India were a side who are expected to be serious title contenders. Its not that Tajikistan played a very solid game, but nevertheless, they were far more disciplined in their plans and they executed it in perfection.

Indian Starting XI before the match

Indian team looked completely out of ideas in every department of the field. Whatever coach Savio Medeira wanted to implement with his squad it never came off. The most frustrating part was that the players never wanted to keep the ball on the ground, be it a central back or a attacking midfielder, who ever received the ball lifted the ball forward more in hope than with good intention. The entire game looked quite amateurish with most Indian players loosing the ball within seconds of getting it and that too gifting the possession to the opponents rather than being challenged. None of the players could be given the tagged impressive but Karanjit Singh's performance under the bar was worth applauding.

India and Tajikistan had a fair share of possession in the first half though none of them was able to make it count. The first goal came though some extra-ordinary piece of defending from newly appointed vice captain Syed Rahim Nabi as he went sleeping when the ball fell to him near the Indian goal and it ricocheted off him towards Akhtam Khamrakulov, who made no mistake in slotting it past the helpless Karanjit Singh to make the scoreline 1-0 to Tajikistan's favour. Just after 6 minutes, India were handed a two goal deficit thanks to a goal from Nuriddin Davronov. Savio Medeira made few changes in a bid to make something out of the game but it never really worked out with players throwing away possession cheaply. Even when a player had a ball with acres of space to run into, most of the time went for aerial balls which never worked out against physically well equipped Tajikistan players.

The match thus ended 2-0 in Tajikistan favour and it must be said that it was well deserved. Nothing worked for the Indian team, neither the team selection looked good nor the strategy of using the Bob Houghton's type of aerial football worked for coach Savio Medeira. The two central midfielders Rocus Lamare and Adil Khan were not able to create much or one could say anything, with Rocus being physically out-muscled by his counterparts and Adil Khan was found guilty of gifting the ball to his opponents far too many times especially considering his role of creative midfielder. Anthony Pereira and Samir Naik were unarguably the worst players on the pitch. Syed Rahim Nabi was the criminal of the first goal. All in all a performance to forget.

After this kind of performance, one can only hope that only a miracle will make India go through from this group, specially when a opposition of the stature of DPR Korea is in your group.

India next face Philippines on 11th March at the same venue(Dasarath Stadium).
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