India's soccer dreams receives severe jolt

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Beirut, Oct 9: India's dreams of reviving their football fortunes received a severe jolt as they lost 1-4 to Lebanon in the away leg of the first round of Asian qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup here.

The Nehru Cup triumph in New Delhi in August beating Syria in the final had raised visions of ''beginning of a turnaround,'' but Bob Houghton and his boys will have a mountain to climb and have to come out with something extraordinary when they meet the West Asians in the home leg in Chennai on October 28, if they were to go through second round of the qualifiers.

All hope is not lost though and 3-0 win in Chennai could see India through on away goal rule.

India seemed to have been crusing to a favourable result at Saida Municipal Stadium late last night as they took the lead in the 30th minute through striker Sunil Chhetri, but that turned out to be a false dawn as the hosts took just five minutes to neutralise the advantage through Roda Antar.

The game was wide open when both sides went for the breather at 1-1, but the Indian defence, which was in fine fettle couple of months ago in New Delhi, crumbled under incessant Lebanese offensive and let in two goals in the space of two minutes before conceding another 15 minutes before final hooter.

Mohamad Ghadar and Mahmoud El Ali hit quickfire two goals in the 61st and 62nd minutes and Ghadar netted his brace in the 75th minute to complete Indian disappointment.

In other first round matches, Singapore destroyed Palestine 4-0 at Al Rayyan Stadium in Doha, Qatar.

Palestine were playing at a neutral venue for their home match because of security reasons.

In Muscat, Oman beat Nepal 2-0, while Syria thrashed Afghanistan 3-0 at the Aleppo International Stadium and Yemen demolished Maldives 3-0 at home in Sana.

UNI

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