India’s hope of notching up their first win in an international futsal match got dashed when they went down to Palestine 5-6 in the third and final group league AFC Futsal Asian Cup 2024 Qualifiers encounter at the Dushanbe Indoor Stadium on Wednesday, October 11.
Playing in an international futsal tournament for the first time, India ended their campaign by losing all three matches in the group but raised enough hopes of coming back stronger in the near future. In the four-team group, India finished last, while Palestine grabbed the third spot on the basis of their win over India. Hosts Tajikistan and Myanmar are the two teams who qualified for the next phase.
After a seesaw battle that saw the lead changing hands more than once, Palestine had the last laugh when they scored the winning goal through Imad Fahjan two minutes before the final whistle. India, who conceded two goals within five minutes of the start of the tie, struck back in grand fashion and led 4-3 after the 20-minute first half ended.
However, India failed to sustain the momentum in the second session and allowed the rivals to penetrate their defence time and again resulting in Palestine finding the net three times in this period.
India scored five goals and a few of them prompted the spectators to often cheer for the side, who ultimately ended up losing side. After Mousa Harara and Zaher Alsamahi put Palestine 2-0 up, David Laltlansanga reduced the margin with an accurate volley. In the 14th minute, Nikhil Mali looked cool as cucumbers when he tapped in a Sandeep Oraw to make it 2-2.
It was the period when India were at their best. David Laltlansanga and Nikhil Mali scored two more to give India a 4-2 lead. The euphoria, however, didn’t last long as Palestine took charge to reduce the margin before the breather and then had it all the way in the final 20 minutes.
INDIA FUTSAL: Augustin Savio D’mello, George MS Dawngliana, Lalsangkima, David Laltlansanga, Bijoy Gosai.
Subs: Sayantan Chowdhury, Scott Moraes, Sachin Patil, Jayesh Sutar, Nikhil Rajendra Mali, Abhay Gurung, Bijoy Gosai, Sandeep Oraw, Sandesh Nivrutti Malpote, K Roluahpuia