India lose to Palestine in football friendly

Kochi, Feb 6: Playing their first international match at home after the Nehru Cup win, India lost 2-4 to Palestine in a football friendly at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here Wednesday.

Clifford Miranda and Syed Rahim Nabi scored for India in the 17th and the 39th minute respectively while for Palestine, Ashraf Alfawaghra scored a hattrick and Husam Abusalah scored the other goal.

It was a tale of two halves for India.

The hosts were by far the better side in the first half and went into the interval enjoying a 2-1 lead.

However, two goals by Palestine within three minutes after resumption dealt them a body blow.

India surged into the lead in the 17th minute. Alwyn snaked in between a couple of rival defenders but his left-footer was palmed away by goalkeeper Tawfiq Abuhammad only for Clifford Miranda to blast it in.

However, the lead lasted only 13 minutes when much against the run of play Ashraf Alfawaghra volleyed in an Abdulhamid Abuhabib pass.

Nabi put India back in the lead in the 39th minute when he leaped over all to head in Mehtab Hossain’s corner. India went into the interval with a 2-1 lead.

But it was a different story in the second half. Immediately after resumption, Palestine equalised to make it 2-2, Hasam Abusalah heading in a corner in the 46th minute which was the first attack of the second half.

The very next minute, Palestine were 3-2 up, Ashraf converting from the spot.

It wasn’t the start which was planned, and India wanted and tried to regroup. Palestine were in no hurry and stayed content in further slowing it down.

Understandably, the crowd of legs in their half increased.

Arata Izumi made his debut for India in the 63rd minute coming on for Lenny Rodrigues.

But two minutes later, Palestine made it 4-2; Ashraf completing his hattrick as he went past his marker and slotted it home.

India’s first chance in the second half came in the 73rd minute but a Jewel Raja volley from the top of the box narrowly missed the mark.

IANS