SPORT

DPR Korea holds India

Margao March 30 . DPR Korea reserved its best in the second half, rallying from behind to hold India 1-1 in the Group G preliminary round of the Asia Cup qualifying match played at the Nehru stadium here on Sunday.

India took time to settle down and led 1-0 at half time through striker I.M. Vijayan in the 30th minute. The visitor, who controlled the second half, restored parity in the 84th minute through Choe Hyon U.

Thus, Korea that beat India 2-0 at home, qualified into the next round to fill the last spot of Group D along with Iran, Jordan and Lebanon.

The visitor, which knew a draw would be enough for it to qualify, played a cautious game in the first half.

It did not exert itself much in the scorching heat and had the first scoring chance when Myong San Chol's cross from the right was directed at the goal by Pak Song Gwan but his header was parried by Indian keeper Akhtar.

The Indians came with few raids and opened the rival defence twice but striker Abhishek Yadav and Alex Ambrose lacked the punch.

Indian coach Stephen Constantine then made a quick change bringing in I.M. Vijayan for Ambrose to give the hosts' attack a more organised look. Vijayan responded to his coach's call and put India ahead with a stunning header.

Climax Lawrence from the right sent in a centre to Vijayan inside the box, who positioned himself between two rival players before sending in a powerful header to find the far post.

Alvito D'Cunha, who controlled the midfield spraying passes upfront, could have increased the lead in the injury time of the first half but his shot narrowly missed the target.

After change of ends, the Koreans played with more vigour and dictated terms.

Their increased ball possession pushed their rival on the defensive and they nearly succeeded in the 18th minute of the second half when Choe Ung Chon's shot from the left hit the post and off the rebound Rim Kun U failed to cash in.

The Indians lacked the firepower upfront and the absence of experienced Baichung Bhutia was felt. Tomba Singh failed to capitalise on a back pass by Alvito off a fine move by Vijayan.

The Koreans, who kept on pressure, finally succeeded in finding the equaliser.

Jon Yong Chol took the flag kick from the right and floated the ball near the goalmouth and keeper Naseem Akhtar punched the ball but it fell at the foot of Choe Hyon U who unleashed a left footer that hit the inner edge of the bar before finding the net.

The Indians went all out in the last 10 minutes and had two scoring chances but Vijayan failed to convert them as he first bungled an open chance from close and later keeper Ri Myong Dok parried his shot. — PTI

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