India take on Jordan with hope and guile

India's spirited performance against Kyrgyzstan on Sunday has raised hopes of a better Tuesday, writes Nilankur Das.

india Updated: Oct 31, 2006 01:11 IST

India's spirited performance against Kyrgyzstan on Sunday has raised hopes of a better Tuesday. Islam Ahkmedov's boys take on Jordan in a crucial match of the AFC Youth Championship - and Jordan's Danish coach Jan B Poulson is already surprised.

“We always knew the Indians could work hard — I had two players from India when I used to coach Singapore. But I did not expect them to display such quality football,” he said on Monday as he watched the Group B match between China and Australia.

The Jordan coach said some of the Indians players have already caught his eye. “We have to keep a watch on them,” he said, referring to striker Branco Vincent Cardozo, midfielder Thokchom Naoba Singh and defender Rakesh Masih. “The No. 7 (Lalkamal Bhowmick) came in as a substitute and played very well also.”

But he refused to accept that Jordan would be under pressure to win against India. “Even if we draw tomorrow, we have the last match against Kyrgyzstan. But if India draw tomorrow, their last match is against South Korea, and getting a point off them will be very, very difficult,” Poulson said.

Akhmedov acknowledged that fact. “International football is about performing under pressure,” he said.

“We have to kill them at the beginning itself.” The Indian coach, however, has a bigger problem at hand: His mainstay in defence, Aibor Khongjee, got hurt in his lower abdomen on Sunday and had traces of blood in his urine, and that makes him doubtful to see action.

In Bangalore, Mohammed Halkard’s 83rd minute equaliser sparked off wild celebration in front of the Iraqi bench, with the technical staff joining in, visibly relieved to collect one point from the match Saudi Arabia had threatened to walk away with in the AFC Youth Championship football tourney here on Monday.

In contrast, disappointment was writ large on the opposite camp after the Group D opener ended 2-2. The Saudis were dominant throughout and would blame their bad luck more than any stiff challenge for not earning full points. If it wasn't the crosspiece that came in their way, it was Iraq goalkeeper Alla Jias who ensured the ball didn't reach the back of the net.

Vietnam beat Malaysia 2-1

Vietnam defeated Malaysia 2-1 in another Group D encounter to climb to the top of the table.

While the last edition's finalists China began their campaign with a 1-0 win over Australia. After a barren first half, China got the winner in the 65th minute through substitute Deen Xu.

Tuesday’s matches in Bangalore

North Korea vs Iran (4pm, Sree Kanteerava Stadium); Japan vs Tajikistan (7pm, Sree Kanteerava Stadium).

First Published: Oct 31, 2006 01:11 IST