Kuala Lumpur: Goalkeeper Debopriya Das put up a valiant show as Indian escaped with a goalless draw against a strong Malaysian Blue side in the under-13 ASEAN Cup football tournament at the Petaling Jaya Stadium here Friday.
Without the luxury of substitutes, the Yamaha India team fought relentless against a strong Malaysian outfit to keep its slate clean in Group A. India now have to draw their next match against Vietnam slated for early Saturday morning to make the last four.
India were extremely lucky as Malaysia Blue, who had trashed Vietnam 3-0 earlier in the day, showed signs of fatigue.
India, however, played cleverly and had it not been for the heroics of Debopriya, their coach Chinmoy Das' troubles would have been worsened.
Malaysia had the better ball possession but the Indian defence stood rock solid against a wave of attack. Malaysia looked like a tired lot and lacked a finisher who could convert the scoring opportunities into goals.
India almost found the winner in 45th minute, after the Malaysian goalkeeper fumbled to collect the ball in the box after he was beaten in the flight. India's attacking midfielder Sujoy Mullick tried to beat the goalie, who made a goal line save to avert the danger.
That was the only instance when the Malaysian defence was tested, otherwise it was a one-way traffic with Debopriya having a busy day under the bar.
A confident Debopriya, who idolises India goalkeeper Subrata Paul, said the draw will give his team the much needed confidence ahead of the Vietnam game.
"I always try to follow Subrata Paul. I have picked up some of the techniques watching him. I am happy with my performance but I can't think about it too much because tomorrow we have a crucial game against Vietnam," said Debopriya, who had played against Vietnam in the last edition in Bangkok.
Deborpiya said Vietnam cannot be underestimated despite their 0-3 thrashing earlier in the day.
"They have few boys who played in the last edition. They have speed and use the off-side trap to their benefit," he said.
Coach Chinmoy said India cannot afford to drop their guard.
"There is no room for error. We know a draw is enough but we have to play for win," he said.