Defending champions India conceded an early goal and then failed to convert the chances that came their way to go down 0-1 against Lebanon in the opening match of the Nehru Cup football tournament here today.
It was a disappointing start for India, who were looking for their second consecutive title after 2007, as they were done in by a fifth minute strike by Lebanon defender Ali Al Saad who drilled in a powerful free kick into Indian goal from near the ‘D’circle.
India thus failed to take revenge on their opponents who had won once and drawn another in their last two meetings, in the World Cup qualifiers in 2007.
Playing their first international match since January 14, the home team dominated for most part of the match except for the first 15 minutes in front of a large home crowd who filled more than half of Ambedkar Stadium under floodlights.
Lebanon, who were playing without their four regular national players, got their first opportunity as early as in the fourth minute, from a move initiated by striker Mahmoud El Ali.
El Ali’s strike partner Mohammad Ghaddar collected the ball and sent a low cross from the right only to find Ali Hamam’s left footer blocked by an Indian defender in front of goal.