The Indian football team today broke an 11-year-old jinx of not winning a match away from home as they beat lower ranked Cambodia 3-2 in an international friendly here today.
Playing in their first international friendly this year, India -- currently at 132nd in the FIFA rankings -- were given a tough fight by the Cambodians, who are 41 places below them.
The last time India emerged victorious in an away international friendly was way back in 2006, when the team captained by Shanmugam Venkatesh eked out a solitary goal win over Pakistan.
Stephen Constantine's boys played a lacklustre first half but they regrouped in the second session to pump in two quick goals in the space of three minutes.
The win will boost the Indian side ahead of their AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers first leg match against Myanmar on March 28 in Yangon.
Sunil Chhetri (35th minute), Jeje Lalpekhlua (49th) and Sandesh Jhingan (52nd) found the target for India while Cambodia scored through Khoun Laboravy (36th) and Chan Vathanaka (62nd).
A spell of three minutes immediately after the interval settled the issue for Constantine's boys in the match, which witnessed international debuts for Anas Edathodika and Milan Singh.
The two substitutions at the interval -- Sandesh Jhingan and Jeje Lalpekhlua -- coming in for Arnab Mondal and Daniel Lalhlimpuia respectively, did the trick for India. The duo made an instant impact, scoring the next two goals, and despite Cambodia desperately throwing men in attack during the later stages, India had sealed it by then.
Constantine began with Chhetri and Robin Singh in the attack and did not start with Jhingan at deep defence. The Indian defence was porous in the first session with the Cambodians creating chances from counter attacks.
But Jhingan's introduction in place of Mondal changed the scenario and also gave thrust to the attack.
The Cambodians got two good attempts in the eighth and 17th minutes with the Indian defence caught napping but on both occasions Vathanaka failed to convert the chances. He smashed over the bar in the first chance and then shot straight to the Indian goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu from the second.
The Indians lived dangerously for some time but they slowly settled down and then took the lead against the run of play through Chhetri in the 35th minute.
Eugeneson Lyngdoh sent a beautiful corner kick and it was missed by Cambodian goalie Um Sereyroth and Chhetri had all the time in the world for an easy nod into the empty net.
But the Indian lead lasted just a minute with Cambodia equalising in the 36th minute. Prak Mony Udom got the better of Mondal and he sent in a low cross for Laboravy to beat Gurpreet with a powerful shot.
Jeje and Jhingan came in the second half and that changed the complexion of the match with India dominating the home side.