India edge out Nepal in U-15 SAFF Championships
Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar
The Young Colts continued their impressive run in the tournament and will face Bhutan in the semis...
India U-15 continued their impressive run in the SAAF U-15 Championship, defeating hosts Nepal 2-1 to top their group and continue their undefeated run in the tournament so far. Vikram Pratap Singh and Ravi Bahadur Rana's strikes were enough for India to whiz past the stubborn hosts, who will be disappointed at being able to get nothing from this match.
Both the teams came into the match on the back of dominating victories over Maldives having qualified for the semi-finals already. it was a case of asserting their dominance to win the group on the day. India U-15 started the match on the attack and dominated possession in the early minutes, but the gameplay of both the teams seemed cagey because of the tough conditions.
India started to find their rhythm in the 20th minute when they found a glorious free-kick opportunity but the STRIKE went sailing over the bar. The Young Colts were becoming more and more frustrated with missed chances but finally found a BIT of luck in the 26th minute. A powerful shot from the left wing was scuffled by Nepal's goalkeeper Bishal Sunar and India's captain Vikram Pratap Singh, who was having a great game, pounced and risked his own body to give India the lead.
Nepal were visibly shaken up by the goal and finally seemed to have woken up as they started to show some real aggression in their play and looked really threatening in attack. Their star striker Darshan Gurung showed some terrific movement in the 29th minute, dancing past India's defense but his shot was deflected for a corner. Nepal had a dangerous shot saved really well by India's goal-keeper Jongte a minute later as well.
Nrepal Vs India U-15 SAFF Championships highlights
The Blues' adventurous winger Lalrokima found himself in the box a few minutes later as a glorious cross from the right wing was headed just over the bar by the winger. India continued to stay on the attack and dominated the wings where Nepals' full-backs were really struggling to keep up and some really inviting crosses from the wings failed to find blue shirts. Lalrokima got another amazing chance to double India's lead in the 38th minute when left-back Gurkirat Singh provided a cross but his header struck the post and went over.
The Gorkhas made India pay for their missed opportunities as they drove forward with a lot of intent in the 40th minute and were awarded a penalty after Gurung was brought down. Their captain Roshan Rana Magar took it upon himself to take the penalty and even though his initial shot was saved by Jongte, he converted off the rebound to bring Nepal back into the game and make it the only one so far in the tournament where a team has failed to keep a clean sheet.
India tried to come back in the first half and got some half chances, but Nepal's resilience at the back wouldn't let them get another sniff at goal. The hosts started the second half on the attack as they looked like a different side altogether. Magar broke through on goal and had lots of space in the penalty area, but his shot went just wide of the post.
The Young Colts continued to capitalize on Nepal's midfield problems as Ravi Bahadur Rana stole the ball from midfield and passed it to Bekay Oram, whose cross was headed just over by the marauding Ricky John. India's defense started to show some distress as Birjesh Chaudhary was unmarked in the penalty area but his shot went over in the 52nd minute.
But, India got their control back after the hour mark and piled the pressure on the Gorkhas who were forced to sit back once again. The Young Colts got a free-kick in the 64th minute and Givson Singh delivered a sumptuous ball from it which found Ravi, who fended off Nepal's defenders and hit a powerful header which surprisingly sailed through Nepal's defense into the net and gave India their lead back.
Givson continued his brilliant work on set-pieces as India produced some real magic from a corner in the 69th minute when his delivery was met with a backheel which helped the ball into the path of Thoi Singh, who was unable to double India's lead when he scuffed an easy chance washis header went over the open net. India started to get a bit aggressive as Lalrokima and Ravi both saw yellow cards for bad tackles.
The hosts almost went into self-destruction mode in the 74th minute when they struggled to clear the ball from a corner and almost put it inside their own net before it was cleared and danger was averted. Both teams tried to get a decisive goal but could only manage to create chances from long shots which were easily saved by both keepers.
The home team were being rallied on by their supporters and marauded forward in the final 10 minutes. They got a free-kick around 40 yards from goal which was taken by the ambitious Darshan Gurung, who hit an incredible strike that was inches away from going into the net and had Jongte's heart in his mouth. Darshan got another chance at goal with a free-kick in added time, but his inviting cross wasn't met by anyone.
India almost put the game to bed in the final moments of the match, but Vikram Pratap Singh's attempt was thwarted by Sunar. However, Ravi's second half goal was enough for India to win the match and their group. They will go onto face Bhutan in the semi-finals while Nepal face the winners of the other group in Bangladesh.
Published: Wed Aug 23, 2017 05:39 PM IST