Nehru Cup 2012: India settle for a draw against Nepal

India held to a goalless draw by Nepal at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Nehru Cup 2012

India 0-0 Nepal
Nehru Cup 2012
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi


Unlike what most would have predicted, dominating Nepal walked out with a draw against India in the Nehru Cup 2012 match. Much like the other matches, the ground was in bad shape with excess water in several places making a mockery of ground passing which Wim Koevermans is trying to inject in the new looking Indian team. Nepal were the one who dominated the first half as they controlled the midfield expertly keeping Indian medios looking clueless except for Mehtab Hussain who pressed real hard. Despite controlling the pace according to their liking Nepal were unable to break the Indian defense thanks to their lack of quality upfront. With most of players looking clueless with Nepal's strategy of pressing for every ball, India failed to make any impact in the first half.

Robin Singh was introduced in place of the off-colored Clifford Miranda who looked good in the last two games but he did not make any instant impact as Wim might have hoped. Nepal continued the way from where they left jumping for every single ball. Rohit Chand at the back was particularly impressive making some good tackles and almost intercepting every pass. Denzil Franco who was handed a start by the Dutch coach looked somewhat good in the first half, but faded away in the second half. Syed Rahim Nabi perhaps tried to make some runs to the box, but failed to make any such thanks to the numerous water-logged patches. India never really looked interested in building the game from the back or from the midfield. Midfielders were found guilty of throwing away wasteful balls in good areas. 

 Jewel Raja was brought into the play in the last quarter of the game and he showed instant impact with his skills on the ball. One such moment of brilliance was seen minutes after his arrival when he went past three defenders from the midfield all the way to the 6 yard box only to see his effort being deflected for a corner. That one move seemed to have brought a new energy to the team as they pressed hard for the winner. Nepal tried hard to kill the time as India looked desperate for a goal, delaying every bit of action much to the agony of the Indian players and fans. In the 81th minute, Robin Singh had a chance to score the winner from inside the box as the ball fell to him, after Nepali goalkeeper Chemzong was forced to make a save from a sweet curling effort by the liveware Jewel Raja, but he failed to direct the ball away from the Nepal custodian Kiran Chemzong. Sunil Chhetri was played a good ball by Jewel Raja but his shot also went straight to the keeper. In the 89th minute Bikash Chhetri was given the marching orders for showing dissent at the Uzbek Referee. India's last effort saw Sunil Chheti's freekick shaving the crosspiece thus ending the game as a goalless draw. With the draw India see themselves with 7 points from 3 games, in the hunt for the place in the finals while Nepal bow out with a single point.

Some assessments from the game:

Francis Fernandes, never really made any impact during the entire game, trying to place a cross every time he got the ball on the flanks irrespective of the positions of the forwards. 
Mehtab Hussain committed for every loose ball but during that he also gave away too many fouls. Gourmangi Singh seemed slow when the Nepali forwards attacked but thankfully it never costed to a goal. Sunil Chhetri and Robin Singh should have scored the winning goal when they got their share of chances. 
Lenny Rodrigues also failed to make any impact in the creative part of the field. 
Denzil Franco tried his best in the first half but as a replacement could not fill the boots of Nirmal Chhetri.
Great display by Jewel Raja nearly earned India full three poitns

India's only positive from the game was Jewel Sheikh Raja's performance which almost earned India three points creating several chances since coming on. He looked great technically when the ball was as his feet.
And his speed was also charming to watch. Perhaps he looked the only player who wanted to hold the ball.

None of the Indian midfielders did the role of creating any attack with none of them ready to hold the ball and create the opportunity. Rather, each one of them wanted to release the ball off their feet as quickly as possible. Perhaps one could argue the pitch conditions, but at the same time one has to take a lesson from how the Nepal midfield approached the game. 

India next take on the mighty Cameroon in their last group match on 31st September. 


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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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