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India beat Malaysia: AAG football
October 24, 2003 17:27 IST
Last Updated: October 24, 2003 20:00 IST
India beat Malaysia 2-0 to advance to the semi-finals of the men's football tournament in the Afro-Asian Games on Friday.
After a goalless first-half, Jatin S Bisht put the hosts ahead in the 50th minute and I M Vijayan added another goal in the 62nd minute.
It was India's second straight victory in the tournament. They beat Rwanda 3-1 in their opening match.
India have six points from two matches in the three-team group. They meet the runners-up of the four-team Group B, where the field is still wide open with only two matches completed.
Malaysia play Rwanda in a crunch game on Sunday to decide the other qualifier from the India's group.
Despite fielding their youth team, Malaysia did well in the first-half, denying India a goal though the latter had more ball possession. Norhisham Hassan created several openings for the Malaysians and put the Indians under pressure, but Sangram Mukherjee in the India goal brought off some good saves.
The deteriorating ground condition, which has lost most of its grass after matches were played on the soggy field on Wednesday, made things difficult for both the teams and Indian coach Stephen Constantine was critical about it in his post-match briefing.
A first-half goal by India captain Bhaichung Bhutia was disallowed as he was ruled off-side. But the star striker put in a much better show than he did against Rwanda and was involved in several moves.
Malaysia got a chance to score in the 11th minute when Hassan came up with a good try, but Tomba Singh cleared the ball on the goal line.
India went all out from the start of the second-half and tasted instant success when Bisht headed home a Tomba Singh cross, catching Malaysian custodian Arsidi off guard.
Vijayan, who had the distinction of scoring the first goal of the tournament, exhibited his class as he produced a beauty of a lob to put India 2-0 up. The move began from substitute Krishnan Nair Ajayan, who ran down the left flank and crossed the ball into the middle. Receiving a short pass from Tomba Singh, Vijayan deftly controlled the ball and bulged the net.
India took total control of the match from then on and Ajayan, Tomba Singh and Vijayan kept the Malaysian defence on the tenterhooks.
Constantine, who was unhappy with the way the Indians played in the first-half, said their game improved after the break.
"We did not play well in the first-half. The ground was very bad; worse than the first day."
Asked whether the four-day gap before the semi-finals would affect the side, as the knock-out phase starts only on October 29, Constantine said his boys would keep practicing.