Hyderabad, July 30 (UNI) India began its campaign on a perfect note with a 1-0 win over Afghanistan in its opening encounter of the AFC Challenge Cup football tournement here today.
After both the teams were locked at a goalless draw at the end of the regular time, Lawrence Climax scored in the injury time to win the match for India.
India started on an attacking mode from the word to go with forwards Baichung Bhutia and Sunil Chetri making one to one moves.
Indians could have easily won the match by a bigger margin if they had capitalised on the opportunities that came their way.
The tall Afghan defender Sharityar combining with Islam Zohib thwarted the Indian forwards successfully as made some good moves to save his team from losing the match with a different scoreline.
Lawrence Climax's powerfull shot off a deflection from Afghanistan goal keeper Amiri Shamsuddin went over the bar in the 10th minute.
A couple of minutes later Sunil Chetri kicked a long ranger from 30 yards straight into goal keeper's hands.
In the 15th minute Baichung Bhutia and Sunil Chetri's combined move almost earned a goal but Afghani defender Sharityar defied India to take a lead.
In the 18th minute Climax, after taking a flag kick, rushed into the penalty area to shoot the ball. But it just missed the goal and went out. In the 23rd minute Baichung's powerfull shot went straight into Afghan goal keeper's hands off Chetri's pass.
India earned a flag kick in the 28th minute but failed to convert it into a goal. Bungo Singh centered a ball but the Afghan goal keeper reacted just in time to gather the ball.
The Afghanistanis started slowly, but a couple of attacks in the later part of the first half which went begging could have could reversed the scoreline.
Qadami Hafizullah, moving from right, reached the penalty area and kicked a long ranger in the 22nd minute of the first half. But Indian goal keeper Subrata Paul pushed it over the cross bar.
In the 42nd minute Afghanistan got the best chance to score with a Kohistani cross near the penalty from the right. But Paul once again saved Qadami's powerfull shot.
In the 44th minute Indian defender Surkumar saved a powerfull shot by Qadami from just outside the penalty area.
UNI XR/DB VV RAR HT2150