|Sunil Chhetri scored India's only goal|
By Arunava Chaudhuri - AFF Indian correspondent
India were held to a one-all draw by neighbours the Maldives in an international friendly match at the National Stadium in Male yesterday. India went ahead through Sunil Chhetri, while Mukhthaar Naseer restored parity for Maldives before the break.
After the game interim coach Armando Colaco said, "It was a tough match. We did create our chances and I'm happy with the performance of the boys."
"The World Cup Qualifier against UAE stays our priority. There’s always a bit of experimentation in Friendlies and we tried to make most use of it," Armando added who did not make any substitutions.
After early chances on both sides India took the lead in the 18th minute through a Sunil Chhetri header off a Steven Dias corner. Thereafter India put pressure on their rivals with the Indian midfield in control with Jeje and Chhetri a constant threat. Jeje's missed a golden opportunity in the 43rd minute when he was send free by Chhetri but his shot hit the post. Only a minute later the Maldives equalised in the 44th minute when Mukhthaar Naseer curled in a nice shot past Subrata Pal.
After the break it was mainly the Maldives as the islanders put pressure on their bigger rivals, but India did have their chances with Jeje having the best. It stated one-all in the end.
India were the better side in the first half, while the Maldives had more of the game after the break and the final result is a fair account of the match.
India now travel to Doha to face Qatar on July 17 at the Al Sadd Stadium to continue their preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup - Asian Round 2 qualifier against the United Arab Emirates on July 23 & 28.
Subrata Pal; Samir Naik, Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh, Raju Eknath Gaekwad, Debabrata Roy; Steven Benedic Dias, Climax Lawrence, Mehtab Hussain, Syed Rahim Nabi; Jeje Lalpekhlua, Sunil Chhetri