Colombia were the first team to arrive in India, and have been training in Gurugram ever since to acclimatise to the surroundings.
With just 12 days remaining for the U-17 World Cup to be hosted in India, South American giants Colombia’s U17 Football Team had the first taste of Indian Football at the Heritage Academy Grounds, Gurgaon when they hosted Minerva Punjab FC’s U20 in a Friendly on Wednesday at 7 pm.
It was no surprise for the Indian Football fans as the South American giants choose to play the Mohali based club in their first practice match on Indian Soil as Minerva Punjab FC have been in the news lately for contributing over 18 players in various age groups for Indian National Football Team and 4 to the Indian U-17 World Cup team who will host Colombia U-17 On 9th at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
Minerva Punjab FC’s Asst. Coach Sachin Bahadhe fielded a much competitive side for the historical game with local Goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh brought in to guard the woodwork and Punjabi defender Kamalpreet Singh along with Ibrahim, newly recruit Mumbaikar Rahul Das and Salman Lateef in the backline.
The Game started with the Colombian team making a quick attack and earning an early corner, But the kick landed into safe hands of Minervan Custodian Arshdeep Singh. The next couple of moments saw the young Los Cafeteros making continues moves to penetrate in the Minervans backline with Midfielders Andrés Felipe Perea and Etilso Martínez Palacio trying to set up thru balls for attacker Déiber Caicedo but some fierce defending by Minervan Kamalpreet Singh saw their intentions denied.
The best chance in the first half came in the 18th Minute for Colombia when Midfielder Brayan Gómez freekick was denied by Arshdeep’s acrobatic save, but soon after in the 25th Minute Striker Deyman Andrés Cortés gave the lead thru a fine finish in the far left post to make the scoreline 1-0 in their favour. The final moments of the half saw Minervan Striker Luntinmang Haokip trying to swift past the Colombian backline but the alert Los Cafeteros defender Juan Peñaloza averted the danger.
A much needed motivational talk by Gaffer Sachin Bahadhe & CEO Ranjit Bajaj saw the boys come roaring back as they started on a positive note and earning an early free kick on the edge of the box, Former Okyeman Planners FC & Middlesbrough U23 midfielder Minerva’s newest 20-year-old Ghanian recruit William Opoku Asiedu stepped up to convert the kick but his shot missed the woodwork by inches. Soon after, Md. Ajruddin made a beautiful shuffle past defenders Juan Peñaloza and Thomás Gutiérrez but missed the final touch.
The Minervans were much dominant in the 2nd Half and held on to maximum ball possession. Midfielder Moinuddin too anchored in some wonderful through balls for Ajaryddin and Haokip Mang but the latter failed to make the best of it. Former India U15 Captain Krishna Pandit had the chance of the game when he had a 1-on-1 with the Colombian custodian but was brought down and denied a penalty too!
The match ended with the Los Cafeteros earning their first victory on the Indian soil against Minerva Punjab FC U20.