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India see signs of trouble as Cameroon win dress rehearsal

Thirteen who took the field were non-regulars keeping in mind sunday’s final

The last league game of the Nehru Cup between India and Cameroon was a virtual dead-rubber,with both teams having already made it to the final. For those of us slow on the up-take,the fact was reinforced by the team sheets. More than half the 22 players who took the field were non-regulars. India made five changes to the side that played its last game. Cameroon made eight,but had a more admissible reason for rotation — the final on Sunday will be their third match in five days.

Admissible or not,Cameroon won the game and if anything,the 1-0 scoreline was flattering to India. Bite Samuel put the African side ahead with a drilled finish from an acute angle,after a simple ball over the top of the defense caught India cold in the second minute.

The pace and slick passing troubled the home side constantly and Syed Rahim Nabi at left back,after getting a working over through the half by the pacy Eloundou Charles,got himself in a tangle with Cameroon’s No. 9,conceding a penalty.

Mercy strike

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The goalscorer chose this time to show he’s got the smarts along with the skills,going for the ‘Paneka.’ Except that he was left with much cackleberry on the face,the weak lob descending meekly into the hands of the keeper who was by then on his knees. It was not the last of Cameroon’s misses. Gurwinder Singh’s last ditch interventions,two in the first half and uncountably many in the second,were all that stood between Cameroon and an embarrassingly one-sided win.

Even after India made a fist of it in the second half,Cameroon continued to fashion changes,none clearer than the one Makon Thierry missed late in the second half,with an open goal at his mercy. With India finishing the game with 34 per cent possession and just one shot on target,one will have to be as gracious as the visiting team’s coach to concede that maybe all of the hosts’ chopping and changing was a part of a larger scheme. After agreeing that the changed Indian line-up was ‘weak,’ and that he was ‘surprised’ by the way they played,as if ‘they did not want a win,’ Emmanuel Bosso said: “Maybe they have something big planned for the final.”

First published on: 01-09-2012 at 01:50:33 am
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