The Junior Colts were undone by a combination of individual errors and a lack of quality in the final third.
Hosts India went down 0-3 to the USA in their first match of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Group A played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in New Delhi earlier today. The Americans took away the points thanks to goals from captain Josh Sargent, Chris Durkin and Andrew Carleton. Although, they lost to a penalty and a deflected goal, the Junior Colts provided a fighting display in what was billed as the biggest match in the country’s fotball history and they will certainly take a lot from it into their remaining games in the event.
In what was an absolutely packed stadium, 60,000 fans roared on to rally the young Colts who definitely needed their help on this historic night. The teams were as expected, with only Boris Singh a key miss for India due to suspension.
It was a cagey start to the game for India as the USA started on the front foot and Andrew Carleton was in on goal in the 3rd minute but the ball was cleared by the brave Dheeraj Moirangthem. A minute later, Blaine Ferri found himself one-on-one with the keeper, but Dheeraj made another great save to keep the opponents at bay.
It looked like it would be a long day for the Colts as the USA just kept on mounting one attack after another. The visitors almost scored a freak goal in the 14th minute when Sanjeev Stalin’s clearance ricochet off a US player, but went wide in the end. But, the Colts gained confidence as the game went on and looked to be inspired by their roaring supporters. Aniket Jadhav showed some impressive pace to threaten on the right wing for India in the 24th minute and even forced a corner for the hosts, but the resulting set-piece didn’t result into an opportunity.
Just as things were starting to light up for India, the USA were awarded a penalty when their captain Sargent was brought down by Jitendra Singh inside the area. Sargent took the penalty himself and slotted it into the bottom left corner to give the USA the lead in the 30th minute. India coach Luis Norton de Matos looked really angry at the players for losing possession which resulted in the penalty, as the hosts had their work cut out for them. The Tigers showed some good movement in the next 10 minutes, with Komal Thatal and Jadhav linking up well on the left wing but failing to find an end result.
Both teams looked quite tired towards the end of the first half, but India showed a lot of promise in the 44th minute when Stalin and Thatal linked up well with Abhijit Sarkar, with the former putting in an inviting ball which was cleared by Durkin. That was the last action of the half as the USA carried a slender advantage into the break
India looked pumped up as they kicked off the 2nd half and they almost capitalized on an error by USA’s midfield but Ninthoinganba Meetai’s shot was blocked by a defender. But, the visitors soon showed hunger for another goal as Ayo Akinola sent Andrew Carlton bursting through the Indian defense but his shot was impressively saved by Dheeraj. The USA received a corner in the 52nd minute which wasn’t that dangerous, but the Colts’ failure to clear the ball meant that defender Chris Durkin found a shot which was deflected into the net, much to the dismay of the infuriated Dheeraj.
The players looked a bit disheartened after that USA almost capitalized on their lack of concentration when the son of the great George Weah, Timothy Weah hit a powerful shot which was wide of the mark. But, India got inspiration in the 56th minute from some impressive ball control by Rahul Kannoly, who put in a brilliant lofted pass for Thalal whose shot went narrowly over the bar in what was the Colts’ best opportunity in the game so far.
FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017: India 0-3 USA
The USA’s talented midfielder Blaine Ferri was having a great game as he found some room outside the box and made a vicious attempt in the 58th minute which sailed over the post. The visitors made a stunning counter-attack three minutes later when Carleton made a precise pass to Akinola, who failed to chip the on-rushing Dheeraj and extend his side’s lead. The Colts showed shades of brilliance in the 70th minute when both the substitute Naorem Nongdamba and Aniket showed some sublime trickery on the left wing but the Jadhav’s pass wasn’t met by anyone in the box.
The young Tigers tried to press high up and it almost cost them as a ball was dinked in from midfield for Carleton in the 75th minute, but his shot could only hit the side-netting. The Blues looked tired and the USA were happy with just keeping possession, but their complacency almost cost them in the 83rd minute when Suresh Singh stole the ball near the USA penalty area and his left-footed attempt was deflected for a corner. It was quite the stunning corner from Komal, as the ball fell to Anwar Ali whose shot rattled the bar, much to the frustration of the fans and players alike.
But, the USA would add insult to injury as they mounted a quick counter-attack which was finished by Andrew Carleton, who went past Dheeraj and passed the ball into the net to get an unassailable lead for the visitors. But Komal continued looking really threatening on the ball as he made another darting run towards the box in the 89th minute and laid a pass to Suresh, who’s shot went sailing over the bar. The USA almost scored a 4th in the dying minutes but were denied by another save from Dheeraj.
Meanwhile, earlier on in the group, Ghana fought their way to a hard-earned 1-0 win to start off their FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign with maximum points against Colombia. A stunning goal from Ibrahim Sadiq in the first half sealed all three points for Ghana, who withstood heavy pressure from an attacking Colombia side in the 2nd half to begin their FIFA U-17 with top marks.
These results mean that the USA and Ghana lead the group with 3 points each, while Colombia and India have their work cut out for them. The next set of games of Group A are on Monday, with India facing Colombia and USA taking on Ghana.