09 October 2007

Lebanon beats India 4-1 in World Cup Qualifier

Beirut - Lebanon rallied from a goal down to crush India 4-1 at the Saida International Stadium in South Lebanon, in the first leg of the opening round of Asian football qualifiers for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Mohamad Ghaddar scored a brace as Lebanon trounced India 4-1 in the first round of Asia's 2010 World Cup qualifying tournament in Beirut on Monday.

Sunil Chhetri put the visiting Indians ahead on the half-hour mark in Monday night's clash, but the home side hit back to draw level through Roda Antar five minutes later.

Goals by Mohammad Ghaddar and Mahmoud El Ali within a minute of each other in the 61st and 62nd minutes put the Indians on the back foot. Lebanon added a fourth through Ghaddar 15 minutes before the final whistle to complete the rout.

Ghaddar then scored his second goal of the night in the 75th minute to lead Lebanon to a convincing 4-1 victory.

India fielded a severely depleted side with goalkeeper Sandip Nandy and striker Abhishek Yadav returning home with injuries.

In Monday's other Asian qualifier first leg games, Vietnam were beaten 0-1 at home by the United Arab Emirates, Palestine succumbed 0-4 to Singapore, Thailand thrashed Macau 6-1, Oman beat Nepal 2-0, Yemen defeated Maldives 3-0, Syria downed Afghanistan 3-0 and Bangladesh drew 1-1 with Tajikistan.

Forty-three Asian countries are vying for four places in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

An additional berth in the 32-team finals is up for grabs for the fifth-placed Asian team if they can beat the winner of Oceania's qualifiers in a playoff.

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.