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PTI

India fight Colombia and the World to prove a point in the FIFA U-17 World Cup

Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar

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The hosts must now beat Ghana and hope that other results go their way to make it into the knockout stages as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Colombia edged hosts India 1-2 in an exciting but tight affair in Group A in the FIFA U-17 World Cup at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi earlier this evening

It was an extremely important match for India, who had a lot to prove after a rocky start. Luis Norton de Matos made multiple changes to the side that lost to the USA, with Boris Thangjam returning to the team. Rahim Ali, Namit Deshpande and Jeakson Singh all got starts, with Komal Thatal being the big absence for the hosts.

The match got off to a rather cagey start, but India looked way more composed this time around and looked more confident defensively thanks to Thangjam. India were getting decent possession in this game and created their best chance in the tournament so far in the 15th minute when Abhijit Sarkar played a nice one-two with Ninthoinganba Meetei and went through Columbia’s defence, but his shot was brilliantly saved by Kevin Meir in the opposition goal.

Columbia went on the counter-attack and received a free-kick from around 35 yards out.  midfielder Yadir Meneses hit a powerful shot which was parried away comfortably by Dheeraj Moirangthem.

Columbia looked a bit unnerved by the jeers of the Indian crowd, who were definitely making themselves heard on the night. The visitors created a chance in the 26th minute when Juan Peneloza showed some impressive feet on the right wing and swung in a ball, which fell to Leonardo Campaz, whose shot was cleared by the Indian defence. Meetei stole the ball in the midfield three minutes later and flashed into the Columbian box, but he was brought down with a clean tackle from Fabian Angel to put an end to India’s attack.

The celebrations in the media box after the goal

Columbia kept on threatening on the right-side and in the 37th minute, Andreas Cifuentes played in a great ball for Campaz, whose powerful header was spectacularly saved by Dheeraj who single-handedly kept India in the game. Dheeraj was turning out to be the Superman for India as he made another stunning save in the 42nd minute when he flung to the left to parry out Meneses’ vicious shot. India showed great determination in added time in the first half, as Thangjam fought his way to playing a beautiful ball to Rahul Kannoly, who’s brilliant left-footed volley rattled the crossbar as Lady Luck just didn’t seem to favour the Indians!

Although, it was an action-packed first 45 both teams wents into the break with no goals to show for their efforts, with a promise of more enthralling action to come.


Also Read:

FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 Re Live: India 1-2 Colombia

We just felt we need to be more patient to finalise the opportunities we had: Colombia  coach Restrepo

We will give it our very best as it is a do-or-die game for us: Komal Thatal

We could have come out victorious if we had converted first-half chances- Matos


The second half began with Columbia looking more threatening as they attacked through the right and they took advantage when India switched off in the 49th minute. Thomas Gutierrez played in a nice cross-field ball into the right wing to Juan Penaloza, who drifted in and struck a vicious left-foot shot which whistled into the net to give the visitors the lead. India looked for an immediate response and almost got an equalizer minutes later when Meetei crossed in from the right and the ball was met by Rahul, who couldn’t guide it into the net.  

India went on the attack after conceding the goal but were being contained well by the stubborn Columbia side who stacked the midfield and played a bit more defensively after taking the lead. Rahim Ali did score in the 56th minute but was judged offside and de Matos made an attacking change by bringing in Aniket Jadhav for Abhijit Sarkar later on. Columbia almost doubled their lead in the 73rd minute when a stunning ball was played to Campaz, who couldn’t control it well and was tackled by Thangjam to get the ball out of play.

 

FIFA U-17 World Cup: India 1-2 Colombia

India went on the attack after Naorem Nongdamba was brought on and Jadhav showed impressive work on the left and passed it to Nongdamba, who went one-on-one with the keeper, who but his shot was saved.  The hosts almost lost their wits with that as they gave the ball away a few minutes later, which allowed Campaz to sore towards goal but his shot could only hit the side-netting.

 

Here: You can check out the crazy atmosphere at the India-Colombia game

Campaz was being a constant threat for India as he capitalized on Thangjam being subbed by India and showed some trickery on the left flank before delivering an inviting cross, which wasn’t met well by the striker. India didn’t lose their hearts and kept pegging on for a goal. They received a corner in the 82nd minute. It was a stunning delivery by Sanjeev Stalin and it was met by Jeakson’s header which sailed into the back of the net and sent the crowd into raptures.

But as the fans were still celebrating this iconic moment of India's first ever FIFA World Cup goal, Columbia came up with an instant response as Gustavo Carvajal played a lofted pass to Penaloza, who broke through the defense and slipped the ball into the back of the net to regain the lead and silence the crowd. India threw everything they had to get another goal and were almost made to pay in the 86th minute when substitute Bryan Gomez’s shot was comfortably saved by Dheeraj.

  

Public reactions as Rahul KP hits the post. You can't have better scenes!

Columbia were happy to keep the ball and frustrate India in the final minutes, but they almost scored another when Gomez drifted in from the left wing and hurled a curling shot which was again saved well by Dheeraj. Despite not getting the result they wanted, India showed a lot of improvement from their first game and gave a performance which many can be proud of. 

Earlier on in the same group, The USA kept up their impressive form as they squeezed past Ghana with a 1-0 win. In what was a rather physical and cagey game,  the USA got their breakthrough in the 2nd half through a goal from substitute Ayo Akinola. India face Ghana in the final game of the group on Thursday, while USA and Columbia will fight it out in the other game at Navi Mumbai. The crowd of 48,184 deserves a special mention and bow as they worked as hard as the boys on the pitch. 

Published: Tue Oct 10, 2017 01:47 PM IST

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