India manages to hold Afghanistan 1-1 in SAFF Championship


3 matches over and the World Cup of footballing minnows SAFF Championship is still looking for a result which is not a draw. The latest match must have been a dissapointment for the poor SAFF Trophy witnessing it. It must have pinned all its hopes for a result from this apparent ‘mis-match’ when India took on Afghanistan.

A sparsely populated JLN Stadium saw Afghanistan going ahead 1-0 defying all expectations and apprehensions as early as in the 5th minute. A few hundreds of Afghan supporters filled the stadium with a loud cheer when Balal Arezo netted the ball.

It took only 5 minutes for India to equalize when Steven Dias’s corner was converted by Chhetri through a header. That was 1st and last time once-known-for-accurate-crosses Steven Dias made any impact in the match. Operating through the flank, He was always quick to get rid of the ball, no matter how far he is from creating any dangerous move. Then there was the captain Climax Lawrence who led by example how to not play football.

Wait! Are you thinking I made a mistake in the ‘title’ of this story? It is not a mistake. Rather that is how it should read because it was Afghanistan who showed more intent of winning. The smartest player on the field was Haroon Fakhrudin who at least twice set it up nicely for Md. Esrafil to score only to hope Israfel was as skillful as he was. It could have been a win for Afghanistan.

When the referee added 4 minutes at the end of the regulation time I thought probably that should be enough to rescue us from the ignominy just like in the last SAFF Cup when Jeje scored in dying moment to snatch a win against Afghanistan. But alas! India couldn’t even take the ball in the Afghan half. They had to defend vehemently to stave off Afghanistan. But for the heroics of Karanjit Singh, Afghanistan would have had a dream opener in SAFF Championship 2011.

Indian football is not bad as you see the National Team performing currently. The problem is of selection. The best players are not playing in all the positions. There are players like lalkamal Bhowmik and Arnab Mandal who are being ignored time and again. Our respected coach Savio Medeira in an interview had said that he chose the old players again because he knows them and is comfortable with them. If that is going to be the selection criteria, there is a lot of frustraton in store for Indian football fans.


  1. We should not expect the class of P.K.Banerjee from Mr Savio Medeira and the performance of Shyam Thapa, Subhas Bhowmik, Chuni Goswami and many others from the members of this Indian squad.

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