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Toothless India U-23 come unstuck against resilient Syria

Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar

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The Young Colts got off to a terrible start in the AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers as they were absolutely run over by the brilliant Syrians...

India Under-23's AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers got off to a bitter start as they fell to a 2-0 defeat to Syria at Doha earlier today. Two second half goals from the Syrians sank Constantine's side who looked pretty solid defensively but could not contain the relentless attack of Syria who absolutely ran through the Young Colts.

Constantine started off with a very impressive side who had some very familiar faces in Daniel Lalhlimpula, Nikhil Poojary and Nandha Kumar in the line-up but it was nothing in compared to Syria who also began with their best XI and were too powerful for the Colts to hold back throughout the ninety minutes.

India had a positive start, containing the early threat of Syria well and almost putting the ball in the back of the net after some beautiful work on the right flank. But Syria almost took the lead when a deflection off Nishu Kumar almost crept past Vishal Kaith into the net. The Colts kept on attacking and some brilliant work from Nikhil Poojary in the 7th minute on the right ended up with a stunning pass to Daniel Lalhlimpula who couldn't get the space to put it away.

 

AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers Goals Video: India U-23 0-2 Syria U-23

The Syrian side enjoyed much of the possession in the early minutes but couldn't break the sturdy defence. A defensive lapse in the 13th minute almost struck disaster for India when a fumble on the left caused Syria to latch onto the opportunity as Moumen Naji put forward a glorious ball for Mohamad Rafat Muhtadi but the striker couldn't capitalise on it, much to the relief of the Indians.

The Indians kept on attacking from the right wing as Poojary looked lively on the day but failed to find that decisive opportunity at goal. Syria kept on attacking as their prolific midfielder Mohammad Almarmour showed some trickery in the 19th minute and delivered an astute ball to the far post but Mohammad Rabie Srour's shot went over the bar. The Indians came very close to conceding in the 23rd minute as another stunning cross from Naji found the head of Muhtadi whose header was amazingly saved by Kaith, who brilliantly scuffled to his right to parry to it the post and wide.

Also read India U-23 see off Singapore U-23 in tight encounter

Constantine's side and Muhtadi kept on being a menace for the Colts as his header off a corner was well saved by Kaith in the 34th minute. The Indians almost got the lead in the 36th minute when Manvir Singh pressed the Syrian goalkeeper Mohammad Yazan Ourabia whose shot was blocked by Singh but went wide.

That seemingly fired up the team and the Colts came extremely close to scoring in the 37th minute. A rocket of a shot by Germanpreet Singh from almost 30 yards out was brilliantly parried back by Ourabia. The Syrians kept on piling on the pressure in as India fumbled in a corner just before half-time. Ahmad Albasir capitalised on it and hit a vicious attempt on goal but it was again brilliantly saved by Kaith.

 

AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers match highlights: India U-23 0-2 Syria U-23

Syria came into the 2nd half with a change as midfielder Mohammed Anez was replaced with Ahmad Al Ahmad to try and control the midfield which was being cramped by the Colts. But Constantine's men weren't deterred by it as they started on the attack. Nandha Kumar won the physical battle against Youssef Al Hamwi and crossed in a ball to Manvir whose powerful header was shakily parried away by Ourabia. Both the sides showed impressive energy early in the half and Syria got another chance in the 52nd minute when Naji's powerful effort was saved well by Kaith.

Syria got some control over the game as Almarmour got himself in some space in the 53rd minute and hit an ambitious shot which sailed over the bar. The Indians started to show signs of frustration as captain Lalruatthra and Nishu Kumar were both booked.  The Colts were almost stunned in the 63rd minute when Naji delivered yet another powerful, inviting ball into the middle but Muhtadi failed to put the ball into the back of the net. Syria was booming in confidence and created a stunning move in the 64th minute through the right wing as a brilliant ball from midfield saw Srour get some space, as he expertly dinked the ball over Kaith (who had come off the line) to give the Syrians the lead.

Also read India U-23 draw series 1-1 with a narrow 1-0 defeat against Singapore

The Young Colts were rattled and being run-over as Constantine decided to take off Daniel and bring in Hitesh Sharma to try and make an impact for India. Syria almost doubled their lead through a set-piece effort in the 76th minute but it was later ruled offside to India's relief. Constantine brought in Robinson Singh and Sarthak Golui for Thapa and Lalruatthra to help with the set-pieces, but it didn't really help.

The young guns were getting more and more restless as Jerry Lalrinzuala was booked after a reckless challenge 3 minutes from time. That challenge turned out to be extremely costly as a stunning ball from Almarmour reached the head of Mohammad Fares Arnaout, whose dynamic header doubled Syria's lead and put the game to bed.  Muhtad almost made it 3-0 in a late counter-attack but his shot went wide of the bar and Syria ended up running through the lacking Indian team who couldn't be saved by the goalkeeper Vishal Kaith's heroics.

Published: Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:53 PM IST

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