New Delhi: Indian football coach Savio Medeira was furious after the 1-1 draw with Afghanistan, claiming that his team was "denied a penalty" in their opening fixture of the SAFF Championship at New Delhi on Saturday.
Back from a six-day trial at Glasgow Rangers, Sunil Chhetri found the net after Balal Arezo put the visitors ahead at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium.
"I thought their player handled the ball. The referee didn't give a penalty which I thought he should have," Medeira said referring to start of the second half when Afghanistan defender Moqadar Faizullah appeared to have handled the ball inside the area.
That, according to the coach, was the only sore point in India's opener though the team often looked short of ideas.
Medeira was visibly pleased with the performance but agreed that there was room for improvement.
"In the first half, I thought we conceded too soon. My boys fought very well and got the important equaliser immediately."
"In the second half when we were going on attack, we left a few gaps in the defence and that is something we need to work on," he said.
Appreciating the performance of Chhetri and Jeje Lalpekhlua, Medeira felt both did well despite being "jet lagged"
"When you travel to Scotland and return just a day before, the jet lag is there. But whenever we played high balls, Chhetri never allowed their defenders to get a touch. I think in the next game, you will see a better combination from them," Medeira said.
"The draw is certainly not a setback of any sort. Every team comes in the competition to win. We tried but for now I am satisfied with a point," he said.
"We must not take Afghanistan lightly as they have several players who play in the Bundesliga second division. The boys stood up to what I told them and maybe we will do better in the next game," he added.
Defending his midfielders he said, "You cannot have the same performance in 90 minutes. I think it was pretty okay in the first half and in the second half we were not bad."
Afghanistan coach Mohammad Yousef Kargar was satisfied with the performance of his team.
"I am happy that the team has drawn the match against India here. Our team is much fitter than what it was three years ago. We have improved a lot. We are a health team. We had a few opportunities to score," he said.