Bhubaneswar, June 12 () Mongolia held mighty Lebanon to a goalless draw to earn their first point in the Intercontinental Cup 2023 at the Kalinga Stadium here on Monday.
Mongolia, who lost their first match against India, now have one point from two matches in the four-team round-robin preliminary league. Lebanon have three points from two matches. In the first match, they defeated Vanuatu 3-1.
Mongolia defender Batbaatar Amgalanbat enjoyed a good day in the office while thwarting the wave of attacks launched by Lebanon and was adjudged the Hero of the Match.
Lebanon had an opportunity to go ahead in the 15th minute. A lack of communication between Mongolia’s goalkeeper Enkhtaivan Munkherdene and defender Erdenechimeg Unur-Erdene provided a perfect opportunity for Karim Darwich to open the scoring, but his attempted shot was cleared off the line by Bat-Erdene Uuganbat.
Lebanon’s forwards kept the Mongolian goalkeeper on his toes throughout the match with constant attempts at the goal, which included several shots from a distance.
Darwich once again came close to securing the lead for Lebanon as he met a perfectly weighted cross inside the Mongolian penalty box, but, finally, he failed to give it the finishing touch. Hassan Maatouk, the Lebanon captain, was also a constant threat to the Mongolian defence as he kept pushing for the elusive goal.
The closest Mongolia came to Lebanon’s goal was in the 79th minute. Substitute Khurelbaatar Tsend-Ayush floated in an inch-perfect curling free kick inside the penalty box of Lebanon and it was met by Ganbold Ganbayar with a header that narrowly missed the target.
Lebanon’s coach, Aleksandar Ilic made several strategic changes and substitutions in the second half in search of a goal but a resilient display from the Mongolian defence foiled his plans.
During add-on time of the second half, Mongolian defender Bat-Erdene Uuganbat apparently touched the ball with his hands while blocking a low cross, but the referee remained unimpressed by Lebanon’s demand for a penalty.