Cameroon hand over India its first defeat in Nehru Cup 2012

clifford-mirandaNew Delhi:  India under their tutelage of Wim Koevarmans crashed to their first defeat of the tournament as they lost 0-1 to the might Cameroon in the last league match of the Nehru Cup 2012.

As both the teams are already in the finals, most of the senior players were rested from the match. While India made five changes from their last match against Nepal, Cameroon fielded nine new players. Cameroon prevailed with a lone goal from Samuel Bittes.

Though the margin of loss was small but it was the African giants who dominated and stamped their authority within the few minutes and scored the opening goal of the match. Bittes charged in from the left and beat skipper India’s central defender Gourmangi Singh to fire in a left footer.

The African sides trying to test the waters before the finals kept it easy and were concentrating more on keeping the ball possession.

With around 35 percent of the ball possession, the defending champions depended on their counter attacks with Manandeep Singh leading the charge. The 22-year-old Singh, who replaced Sunil Chhetri in the team, tried hard to create chances but lack of support made his attempts futile.  

India, looking hard for an opening, got a chance in the 10th minute when after Manandeep’s shot off a Denzil Franco’s cross from the right went over the bar.

 India yet to make an impact in the game, few minutes later tried to break free with a counter attack with Manandeep in action again but a much alert William Bogning pacified the danger.

Cameroon, who entered the match as clear favourites lived up to the billing and hardly let the ball roll into their half into the first 20 minutes or so of the game.

India, who were beaten for pace in the match, got a chance at scoring a goal when Clifford Miranda released Jewel Raja on the left flank who broke away from his markers. But his cross went wayward.

Two minutes later, Syed Rahim Nabi made a breath-taking run from the left and dodged everyone in his way and played a through ball to Manandeep, but the striker was pulled down by Cameroon defender which looked like a clear foul, but the referee felt otherwise and signalled play-on.

With just four minutes left for the half time hooter, Nabi brought down Eloundou Charles inside the box with the referee signalling straightaway to the spot.

Ebanga Bertin tried to do a Pirlo but his panenka was horrendous and Karanjeet collected the ball in two attempts.

To sum it up, Indian were thoroughly bullied in the first half.

After the change of ends, India came out with more intent and were looking much more organised than the first half.

India tried to make initial inroads with both the flanks co-ordinating some nice moves but a burly Cameroonian defence stood like a wall.

Francis Fernandes linked well with Nabi and Sanju Pradhan and did make some good runs but then nothing could materialise for them.

A special mention is required for Nabi due to his performance in the match. He not only was like a wall at the back but also was impressive with his overlapping runs from the flanks and occasional strides in the mid-field too.

Without any goals till the 66th minute, Indian coach Koevarmans sensing urgency of the situation replaced Robin Singh with Manandeep to counter their hefty opponents. But that hardly did make any difference as he was found wanting on most of the occasions.

Both the sides created some good moves but never could bury the ball in the nets. India came real close to scoring their first goal when Pradhan’s cross was headed straight by Francis into Cameroon's custodian NKessi Hosea.

With six minutes left for the game, Koevarmans handed Allwyn his debut and replaced him with Francis Fernandez. Three minutes into the injury times, Thierry Makon could have put them ahead but he missed an open net chance.
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By Samikshan Dutta Choudhury
Indian Sports News Network