India lost 2-4 to host Malaysia in the opening match, a virtual semifinal to bow out of the Merdeka Cup football tournament here on Friday.
Malaysia took the lead as early as in the seventh minute through Dion Cools before Naorem Mahesh Singh equalised for India with a beautiful volley in the 13 minute.
A silly challenge from Nikhil Poojary on Arif Amin inside the Indian box gifted Malaysia a penalty and Amin made no mistake in finding the net from the spot in the 20th minute.
To make matters worse for India, Faisal Halim increased the score-line 3-1 in Malaysia’s favour four minutes from half time.
India captain Sunil Chhetri pulled a goal back in the 52nd minute to reduce the margin to 2-3.
Five minutes later, a huge controversy broke out when Lallianzuala Chhangte was denied the equaliser.
Chhangte got the ball inside the box and his shot deflected off Ahmad’s body and it crossed the goal-line before a clearance from Cools but the referee thought otherwise.
India coach Igor Stimac and the entire team looked furious with the decision and understandably so as replays clearly showed the ball indeed crossed the line.
Malaysia added salt to the wounds of the Indians when Corbin Ong rounded off the tally from close range in the 61st minute.
The Blue Tigers were hard done by bad refereeing and a pitch that was riddled with holes. Besides, a pair of shots hit the crossbar. The Merdeka Cup, also known as the ‘mini Asia Cup’, features only three teams — Tajikistan being the third — as strife-torn Palestine had pulled out of the event at the last minute.
Malaysia will now take on Tajikistan in the final on October 17.