Olympic Qualifiers: India draw Qatar, but are now out

The Indian Under-23 national team drew one-all against Qatar in their second-leg of 2012 London Olympics - Asian Round 2 qualifier at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune. The draw meant that Qatar move into the next round of the Asian qualifiers with a 4-2 aggregate win after they had won 3-1 at home in Doha on Sunday.

It was an even match throughout though once more Qatar showed that they are technically a better equipped side then the Indians, who played their hearts out but it wasn't enough to move on.

The match started on a slow note unlike in Doha where it had started at a blistering pace. India's first chance came of a Raju Gaekwad throw-in in the 19th minute when Jeje Lalpekhlua's shot went to the Qatari goalkeeper Saad Abdulla Al-Sheeb. In the 19th minute India earned a penalty when Murad Naji handled the ball of a Jeje shot with referee Valentin Kovalenko pointing to the dreaded spot, but Laldinrika Ralte's weak shot to the right of keeper Al-Sheeb was cleared by him for a corner.

Qatar remained dangerous on the counter or when they build-ups were led by captain Hassan Al Haidous, who was heavily marked by Shilton and Jewel. The last chance of the first session came once more of a Raju throw-in when a Jewel Raja shot touched Shilton D'Silva but went into the hands of Al-Sheeb. It remained goalless at the break which left chances to India, but like in Doha the midfield was losing the ball too easily and wasn't able to put the strikers in good scoring positions, which also led to the defenders playing the long ball.

After the break Qatar had the first chance within the first minute itself with Laxmikant Kattimani making an important clearance against Al Ansari. But it was India who took a 53rd minute lead through an curious own goal from Qatar. Wing back Khaled Muftah played the ball back to Al-Sheeb, the ball went into the goal under the foot of keeper as he was put under pressure from Jibon Singh. Now the game opened up as Qatar knew another Indian goal and they would be out, which also allowed Jeje and Sabeeth to get more space upfront.

India's best chance came in the 71st minute to the teams star striker Jeje when he finally received a through ball on the left, but his shot was not placed enough to beat Al-Sheeb. And then only a couple of minutes later on the other side Mohamed El-Neel would volley in the equaliser for Qatar. India now needed two goals to at least get into extra-time, but it wouldn't come as India was unable to create chances towards the end of the game.

"We were distinctly unlucky not to win," coach Desmond Bulpin uttered. Team India coach Armando Colaco who had come all the way from Delhi, besides lauding Bulpin and his boys said, "The future of Indian football stays in safe hands."

But in the end India wasn't able to upset the Qataris who move into the Asian Round 3 Group Stage qualifiers of the 2012 London Olympics.


INDIA U23 1-1 (0-0) Qatar U23 - Goals: 1-0 Khaled Muftah (53', own goal), 1-1 Mohamed El Neel (73')

INDIA: 1-Laxmikant Kattimani; 2-Abhishek Das (90' 16-Jagtar Singh), 4-Raju Eknath Gaekwad [C], 3-Arnab Mondal, 5-Gurjinder Kumar; 6-Lalrindika Ralte, 8-Jewel Raja Sheikh (75' 15-Ongnam Milan Singh), 7-Shilton D'Silva, 9-Kh. Jibon Singh; 10-Jeje Lalpekhlua, 11-C.S. Sabeeth (69' 17-Manandeep Singh)
Substitutes: 18-Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, 12-Deepak Devrani, 13-Shahbas Shaleel, 14-Anthony Barbosa

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