Kuwait City, Sep 22 (IANS) A spirited India were held to a 1-1 draw by Tajikistan in their first match of the 2013 AFC U-16 Qualifiers at the Ali Sabah Al-Salem Stadium here.
Prosenjit Chakraborty converted from the spot in the 56th minute after Saidov Karomatullo had put Tajikistan in the lead in the 36th minute, Saturday night.
Represented by All India Football Federation's (AIFF) Regional Academy boys, the Indian colts took some time to settle down. Once they did, they dominated, penetrated and forced Tajikistan to play second fiddle.
The character on display was commendable indeed. It was the first match of the AFC Championship and the first international match for the bunch.
But they were not overawed by the occasion. Down by a first-half goal the boys came back strongly forcing one to ponder as to why they couldn't garner full points.
Post the Tajikistan goal which was pushed in by Saidov off a melee following a corner, it was all India in the remaining part of the first half and the first 25 minutes of the second half.
But Tajikistan managed to hold on. Add to that rival Goalkeeper Khayriev Behruz's reflexes, India were forced to split points.
The turnaround started from the 37th minute. India's sudden burst unsettled the sturdy Tajik boys, who till the 36th minute looked a bit more in control than the Indians.
In the 44th minute, Anirudh Thapa's touch off a Jerry Lalrinzuala free-kick hit the post and went wide. A series of corners followed. But the ball wasn't just destined to go in. It was the right impetus which India needed prior to the interval.
And when they took the field in second half, the colts began with a bang. Krishna Pandit replaced Kapil Hoble and in the very first minute, Muchahary's shot was saved by a diving Khayriev.
India kept up the pressure and almost equalised in the 47th minute but this time, a Dependra Negi header off a Jerry Lalrinzuala corner was again denied by an alert Khayriev.
The equaliser seemed inevitable and it eventually came in the 56th minute. Nijwm sidestepped Azimov Abubark only to be brought down by the latter inside the box. Prosenjit Chakraborty gleefully converted from the spot.