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Rediff.com  » Sports » Syria eke out draw after Abduljaffal's late strike

Syria eke out draw after Abduljaffal's late strike

August 24, 2012 22:25 IST

Ouday Abduljaffal turned out to be Syria's saviour as his crucial strike helped the west Asian nation hold Cameroon to a 2-2 draw and stay alive in the Nehru Cup football tournament in New Delhi on Friday.

Trailing 1-2, Abduljaffal struck the all-important goal in the 79th minute, putting to rest Cameroon's hope of starting the tournament with a win at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium.

Alaa Alshbbli scored the other goal for Syria -- his second in the tournament -- in the 42nd minute, while Kingue Mpondo and Ebanga Bertin found the net for Cameroon, in the 17th and 55th minute respectively.

Mpondo put the African nation ahead when his power-packed header off a Bertin corner crashed into the back of the net.

Alshbbli cancelled out Cameroon's lead with an equally impressive header off Abduljaffal's free-kick as the two teams went into the break with the score locked at 1-1.

Even as Alshbbli breathed life into Syria's game, their joy was short-lived. Cameroon regained the lead after Bertin slammed one home from the spot eight minutes into the second half.

However, Syria's fortunes changed for good midway into the second half as Abduljaffal scored with a rasping right-footer, giving no chance whatsoever to Cameroon goalkeeper Ngome N Lawrence.

In their quest for an equaliser, Syria went all out after conceding the lead for the second time in the match, and they were rewarded when Abduljaffal found the net.

Even as Cameroon coach Emmanuel Ndoumbe made a few quick changes, his Syrian counterpart preferred not to tinker the combination too much, and it worked for his side.

Syria, in fact, could have earned full points from the match had it not been for indiscretion on part of their strikers who fluffed on a few occasions.

Syria lost to India 2-1 in the tournament opener on Thursday, but staged a dramatic fightback to stay in the hunt.

Syria assistant coach Anas Makhlouh said, "Our team did really well. We missed a lot of chances."

About the spot kick he said, "I don't know about the penalty. I though our goalie got the ball."

Cameroon coach Emmanuel Bosso said, "The pitch was not favourable. Even the pitch in Cameroon is not that bad."

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