India after qualifying for the Asian Cup 2011 after 24 long years finally played their first match against Australia. The Socceroos where 116 places ranked above India and their domination in terms of Ranking was even visible in the score line as they thrashed India 4-0 and secured and easy win.
The critics predicted that Australia would at least score a minimum of 6 goals and will humiliate India by keeping the recent form of both the team into consideration. The men in blue conceded the first goal in the 11th minute when a low cross from the right wing was pushed by Tim Cahill from close range giving no chance for Subrata Paul. The Aussies held all the possession in the first half and later in the 25th minute Harry Kewell scored with his left foot from just outside the box as he was allowed too much time on the ball by the Indian Defenders and his shot didn’t give any chance for the Indian goalkeeper Subrata. It was all out attack by the Australians and that ended up in nothing but some world Class saves by Indian Superman Subrata Paul. In the dying moments of the first half another cross from the right wing by Emerton was headed over by Brett Holman and the desperate dive by Subrata Paul was not enough to stop the ball from going in. This way India were three goals down in the first half as expected and the score line seemed to double in the second half. Australians scored three goals in the first half but the man of the moment in the first half turned out to be Subrata Paul who made some wonderful saves and was always there for the rescue of Indians.
Bob Houghton’s men stated the second half quite well and seemed to look more confident in defense. The defenders seemed to improve their performance especially Anwar Ali and Sur Kumar Singh improved their second half performance and where strong in air. Later in 65th minute Luke Wilkshere’s delivery from a dead ball situation saw the 178 cm tall Cahill put his head to good use as Anwar and Abhishek couldn’t avert the danger around the hour mark. India still never seemed to lose their cool and continued to be disciplined and tried to intercept almost every Aussie attack and was very much success full. Indian later brought in Renedy Singh who delivered a fine ball from the left to Chhetri who almost came near to goal but his left foot couldn’t reach the ball thanks to some wonderful defending by Sasa Ognenovski and in the end it turned out to be an easy save for Mark Schwarzer. In the end the match ended up in a 4-0 defeat for India and conceded only one goal in the second half.
The match was surely dominated by the Australians but we have to agree the fact that men in blue performed well when compared to their rankings, facilities and international exposure. Indian players where competing against a side who has got both current and ex English Premier League players, the result if thus analyzed was not a disaster from India’s point of view. The other important thing was that Indians where without their most experienced player Baichung Bhutia and his arrival in the coming matches against South Korea and Bahrain would build up more confidence and skills to the squad.
There were a lot positive intakes from the match as the level of performance was increased and the fitness of the players was also improved. The Indian players ran thrice to what they do in I – League. The defense seemed to be disciplined and the style never seemed to be too defensive as two strikers where always there upfront to put some pressure on the Australians and was always ready to make a counter attack whenever they got the ball.
This match must have surely increased the confidence of the boys and can manage to deliver much improved performance in coming matches. So let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that the team at least manages a draw against one of the other two teams i.e. South Korea and Bahrain.