The ghosts of their previous meetings with Yemen came back to haunt the Indian team as they were beaten by a comprehensive 6-3 margin in the friendly at Balewadi stadium on Wednesday.
Riding high on the wave of their success against Vietnam , the Indian team suffered a jolt as early as the ninth minute when Yemen managed to beat Indian keeper Subrata Pal through Haithm Thabit. Clifford Miranda was substituted with Steven Dias in the 13th minute.
The 20th minute offered some cheer to the Indian camp when Aref Dali in a total mismatch of a judgement call managed to net the ball into his own net, thereby nullifying the lead. However even though India tried hard repeatedly to enter into the opponents’ half, the attempts were at best termed modest. Coach Bob Houghton’s words from the first match, where the players had been unable to finish off the plays by shooting wide at the goal, came to haunt the team as the forwards missed some excellent chances to take the lead.
The 28 th minute saw them regain their one goal lead when Khaled Baleid managed to score off a series of brilliant runs by the Yemen midfielders. The two teams went into the break with a 2-1 scoreline. India came into the second half looking confident when they equalised immediately in the 49 th minute through Abhishek Yadav. And though the Indian team looked like they had received a shot in the arm the run just continued on a downslide for them.
Akram Wafi scored in the 61 st minute, and Ala Sasi scored again in the 77 th minute to open up the margin against the Indians. The woes compounded when 11 minutes later – in the 88 th minute – Sasi scored again to make the scoreline 5-3.
And just when the aisles had begun to empty with an obvious result looming in the air, there was more drama to come in injury time, as Surkumar Singh through a brilliant run managed to score a goal in the 92nd minute of the five minutes of extra time. However it was plain shoddy defending on the part of the Indians as Yemen on the break after the goal came back strongly through Yaser Ba Haj and managed to score another goal for Yemen and the final scoreline was 6-3. India who had lost to Yemen 2-1 earlier when they had played them at their home turf were facing a West Asian opponent for the first time after the 2009 Nehru Cup.
India now go into a two week vacation after which they assemble in November for their matches that they will be playing in Dubai before the beginnning of the Asia Cup next year. Coach Bob Houghton however did rue the lost chances and the poor finishing that cost the team dearly.