An impressive India bounced back from back-to-back defeats to blank higher-ranked Namibia 2-0 in their third international football friendly of the month in Delhi on Wednesday.
Having lost to Thailand in the earlier two matches on September 4 and 8 in Bangkok and at home respectively, India came up with an improved showing to beat their opponents, ranked 44 places above them in the FIFA chart, at the Ambedkar stadium.
Ironically, the win came on a day when India dropped 22 places in the FIFA rankings to 160th, one of the worst in the country's history.
Mehrajuddin Wadoo put India ahead in the 28th minute when his shot landed into the Namibian goal after deflecting off a defender.
Anthony Pereira doubled the lead in the 54th minute with a gem of a goal, curling his free-kick from 30 yards to the back of the net.
The will surely boost the morale of Bob Houghton's boys in preparation for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, as they will matches against higher ranked sides in the coming months.
India were clearly the better side with more cohesion and solidity in defence, while the midfield and forward line looked sharper inside the opposition box.
Idia also did well in set pieces, with tall striker and captain Abhishek Yadav causing problems for the opposition on a few occasions.
The Namibians, who came to Delhi without at least a dozen of their foreign -- mostly Europe-based players -- as today was not a FIFA match day, lacked the sharpness though their coach Tom Saintfiet had said they had not played for four months as their premier league is dormant.
It was difficult to differentiate between the two sides in the first half, both making some fine attacking moves though the goal-bound shots were few and far between.
India, who made three changes in the starting line-up of their last match against Thailand on September 8 in Delhi, seemed to have started picking up the form after playing two international friendly matches as they built up attacking moves with neat passes against their physically fitter opponents.
They were also helped by the surface which was better than their last game as it did not rain today.
The back four of Surkumar Singh, Gouramangi Singh, Anwar Ali and Mahesh Gawli were impressive and kept the attempts of their faster rivals at check. Surkumar was impressive on the right flank, making his usual overlapping runs and sudden acceleration into the center of the park.
Striker Sunil Chhetri, who was not at his best against Thailand, was also in the thick of action though could not get a clear chance.
The Namibians looked fitter and faster but seemed to be far from getting over the rustiness of missing action for some months.
Captain and star midfielder Quinton Jacobs was in the thick of things, initiating the moves and distributing passes while striker Alfred Ndyenge also made some threatening runs inside the Indian box.
The best chance they got was in the 41st minute when Heinrich Isaacks, after a low cross from the right, had a charge for the ball with only Indian goalkeeper Subrata Paul to beat.
India took the lead through a lucky goal as the right-footed shot from Wadoo, who started in place of Climax Lawrence today, went into the Namibian goal after deflecting off defender.
India were denied a goal in the 39th minute when Abhishek, who began today in place of Mohammed Rafi, hit the upright. Three minutes later, N P Pradeep's right-footer from just outside the box went wide.
The second half saw Namibia pressing for an equaliser and in the 52nd minute, right winger Heinrich Issacks made a solo run before his left footer from inside the Indian box sailed over the bar.
Issacks also missed a chance in the 73rd minute as he shot wide. Second half substitute Jerome Louis also shot wide from close range in the 81st minute.
Four minutes before time, Subrata Paul made a fine save in a one-on-one situation blocking the shot of Namibian striker Rudi Louw.
In the next minute, Chhetri's left-footer off a pass from Bhaichung Bhutia, who came in for Abhishek in the 65th minute, was brilliantly saved by a diving Namibian goalkeeper Attiel Mbaha.
The match turned a bit physical towards the close with Bhutia and Namibian defender Richard Gariseb both being shown the yellow card by referee Pratap Singh after a heated argument.
Bhutia was later substituted by Mohammed Rafi just before the final whistle.
Houghton used as many 16 players with Renedy Singh, Climax Lawrence and N S Manju coming in towards the close of the match.