MALE, July 11 (PTI): India failed to hold on to an early lead and played out a 1-1 draw against Maldives in an international friendly ahead of their World Cup qualifiers here.
Striker Sunil Chhetri scored for India off a Steven Dias corner in the 18th minute while Mukhthar Nasir equalised for Maldives in the 44th minute at the National Stadium late last night.
The match against South Asian rivals Maldives was the first international friendly in preparations for India�s World Cup qualifiers against United Arab Emirates on July 23 and 28 and the maiden game for Armando Colaco as national coach.
After taking the lead, India controlled the match and could have taken a 2-0 lead but for the woodwork. Jeje Lalpelkhlua�s shot off his strike partner Sunil Chhetri hit the post in the 43rd minute.
Changing over, Jeje got two other chances but wasted them. In the 60th minute, Jeje�s placement missed the target by inches. He then shot wide from close in the 86th minute.
India next play Qatar in another International friendly at the Al Sadd Stadium in Doha on July 17.
India play United Arab Emirates in the first-leg of the World Cup Qualifier at Al Ain near Abu Dhabi. The return leg is slated for July 28 at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi.
Indian coach Armando Colaco was happy with the performance of his boys.
�It was a tough match. We did create our chances and I�m happy with the performance of the boys,� Colaco said.
�The World Cup Qualifier against UAE is our priority. There�s always a bit of experimentation in friendlies and we tried to make most use of it,� he added.
Indian team: Subrata Pal, Sameer Naik, Gouramangi Singh, Raju Gaikwad, Debabrata Roy, Steven Dias, Climax Lawrence, Mehtab Hosain, Rahim Nabi, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Sunil Chhetri.