Philem Dipak Singh
Doha, Jan 14 (PTI) India produced a dominant performancein the second half but went down fighting 2-5 against Bahrainin their second group match of the Asian Cup footballtournament here today.
India, who lost to Australia 0-4 in their first match onJanuary 10, trailed 1-4 at the breather but rallied stronglyin the second half to show that they are no pushovers thoughthere is 51 places difference in the FIFA rankings between thetwo teams with Bahrain at 93rd.
With this loss, India expectedly were eliminated from thecompetition though they have one more match -- against SouthKorea on January 18.
Bahrain striker Ismaeel Abdul Latif scored thetournament''s first hat-trict, finding the target four times inthe 16th, 19th, 35th and 77th minutes after his team-mateFaouzi Aaish had opened the account for his side in the eighthminute.
For India, Gouramangi Singh and Sunil Chhetri scored inthe ninth and 51st minutes in the Group C match at the Al SaddStadium here.
In a fast-paced match, India tried to match their morefancied rivals, who missed out the bus for 2010 world Cup inplay-off, but a goal-keeper misjudgement and constant pressurefrom their opponents saw them wilt and trail 1-4 at half time.
Egged on by a vocal 11,052 crowd at the 13,500-capacitystadium, mainly made up of Indians here, they regrouped andwere the dominant side with the midfield combining well.
Strikers Chhetri and Abhishek Yadav, who started in placeof Mohammed Rafi today, troubled the opposition defence manytimes.
Chhetri, in particular, was in the thick of things thoughhe missed on a couple of chances.
India scored one goal through Chhetri in the second half,but they failed to use the opportunity of one-man advantagefrom the 62nd minute onwards and score more.
Bahrain''s first goal scorer Faouzi Aatish was sent off byMalaysian referee Mohammed Abdul Razaq after he was booked forthe second time in the match for diving without any foul.
Instead, India conceded a goal against the run of play towiden the margin of loss.
With this win, Bahrain, who lost to South Korea 1-2 intheir opening match, stayed in contention for a quarterfinalberth. Ranked seventh in Asia, Bahrain play Australia onJanuary 18.
The Indian defence of Gouramangi Singh, Anwar, SurkumarSingh and Syed Rahim Nabi were troubled by the fast Bahrainistrike duo of John Jaycee and Abdul Latif several times in thefirst half. .