India begin AFC Cup qualifiers campaign in style
Yangon, March 2 : The Indian football team began its campaign in style, beating Chinese Taipei 2-1 in their first match of the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers 2013 here Saturday.
Jewel Raja Shaikh gave India the lead in the 40th minute while substitute Robin Singh headed in the winner in the 91st minute after Lee Tai Lin had equalised for Chinese Taipei in the 54th minute.
Taipei defended deep and depended on counters and much against the run of play almost took the lead in the 11th minute but an alert Subrata Paul was acrobatic enough to tap over a Chen Yi Wei freekick from outside the box.
After a series of raids in the opposition half, it came as no surprise as Jewel trapped Sunil Chhetri's through ball with great poise and sent it past the rival goalkeeper Lun Kun Chi.
But the complexion changed almost immediately after resumption. Chinese Taipei equalised in the 54th minute with Lee Tai Lin heading in Su De Cai's corner. The goal pushed the Indians on the backfoot and all of a sudden, Taipei, for a brief period, had a bit more of the possession.
Though the Indians regrouped fast. AIFF Player-of-the-Year Syed Rahim Nabi replaced Francis Fernandes. But with the entire Taipei team having fallen back to defend, it became hard to find a breakthrough.
Wim Koevermans brought on Robin Singh in place of Jewel in the 82nd minute and with India attacking down the middle and the two flanks, the goal seemed inevitable.
The wait ended in the first minute of the extra time when Robin leaped high to head in Nabi's centre from the right.
India next play Guam next March 4.