Azerbaijan win 3-0 against India

India lost 0-3 against Azerbaijan in the first-ever international friendly between the two sides at The Rugby Sevens Stadium in Dubai.

After the 5-1 trashing at the hands of Oman last Thursday in Muscat, India coach Savio Medeira made seven changes to his starting line-up. Savio had said before the match that he would once more experiment with Manish Maithani, Adil Khan and Francis Fernandes getting their first India starts with Subhasish Roy Chowdhury, Syed Rahim Nabi, Raju Gaikwad and Reisangmi Vashum returning to the starting eleven.

Defender Gouramangi Singh had the honour of leading India onto the field as the captain for the first-time. The match kicked-off with a minute's silence for former India captain Sailendra Nath Manna, who died at the age of 87 in the early hours of today in Kolkata. As a mark of respect Team India wore black armbands in the match.

Like against Oman India conceded an early goal. In the third minute Vugar Nadirov gave Azerbaijan a 1-0 lead after goalkeeper Subhashish Roy Chowdhury's goal-kick only reached an Azerbaijan midfielder, who played the ball through for Nadirov to slot home. Thereafter Azerbaijan had more of the ball and the match with India often forced to chase the faster and physically better build team from the Caucasus. Three minutes from the interval young Raju Gaikwad unnecessarily brought down Mahir Shukurov to gift Azerbaijan a penalty just like he had done in similar fashion against Darryl Roberts from Trinidad&Tobago last August. Shukurov himself took the spot-kick and send Subhashish the wrong way. It ended 0-2 at half-time.

Like against Oman India started off better in the second session as they showed more presence and purpose. The best chance came in the 51st minute when a Francis Fernandes cross from the right was headed goalwards by Joaquim Abranches, but it was cleared by keeper Kamran Agayev. The game slowed down in the second session allowing India more possession of the ball, but rarely was the midfield or the wingers able to create something for the striker as Sushil Singh would often drop back to simply touch the ball.

Towards the end of the game the Berti Vogts coached Azerbaijan once more upped the tempo and it was substitute Nizami Hajiyev to finish any hopes of an India comeback with Azerbaijan's third goal in the 84th minute of a Vugar Nadirov pass. The match ended India zero, Azerbaijan three.

It was India's last match as part of the preparatory camp in Dubai ahead of the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal. India did lose both their matches against superior opposition, but hopefully this match experience will help the team in the 'Group of Death' against North Korea, the Philippines and Tajikistan.

India return back to New Delhi from their preparatory-cum-selection camp in Dubai on March 3 and will proceed to the Nepali capital Kathmandu the very next day.


India 0-3 (0-2) Azerbaijan - Goals: 0-1 Vugar Nadirov (3'), 0-2 Mohir Shukurov (43' pen), 0-3 Nizami Hajiyev (84')

25-Subhasish Roy Chowdhury; 22-Syed Rahim Nabi, 19-Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh [C], 3-Raju Eknath Gaikwad, 27-Gurjinder Kumar Singh; 32-Reisangmi Vashum (81' 20-Lalrindika Ralte), 45-Manish Maithani (70' 28-Jewel Raja Sheikh), 17-Adil Ahmed Khan (90' 47-Lenny Rodrigues), 26-Francis Fernandes (90+2' 10-Lester Mark Fernandez); 18-Sushil Kumar Singh, 9-Joaquim Santan Abranches (85' 50-Manandeep Singh)
Substitutes: 1-Karanjit Singh, ??-Arindam Bhattacharya, 5-Anwar, 7-Baldeep Singh, 12-Anthony Pereira, 16-Samir Naik

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