NEW DELHI: It was sheer heartbreak for India in the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017. A brave and unlucky India went down to Colombia 1-2 in their second Group A match of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Monday.
It was an experience for all the fans as much it was an experience for the boys on their path to better themselves into mature players.
Down by a goal scored immediately after resumption, India’s perseverance eventually paid off in the 81st minute when Jeakson Singh headed in India’s first-ever goal in any FIFA World Cup.
But Colombia broke hearts almost immediately – Penaloza capitalising off a defensive lapse to make it 2-1, his second goal of the match.
In between Colombia, despite having the lion’s share of possession all throughout, somehow managed to survive. If a blinder saved by the Colombian goalkeeper in the 15th minute and the woodwork came to their rescue in the first half; the goalkeeper’s outstretched legs saved Colombia in the 73rd minute as substitute Nongdamba Naorem’s push all addressed to enter the net.
Jeakson’s goal came straight from the drawing board as he out-jumped all to head in a perfect curling delivery from Sanjeev Stalin.
Earlier, India were distinctly unlucky in the first half. A blinder saved by rival Goalkeeper in the 15th minute and then the woodwork frustrated the Indians in the injury time with the rival Goalkeeper beaten hands down off a Rahul KP rasper.
As the Indians went to the dressing room with their positive language having caught Colombia unaware, Colombia, despite having come into the match as overwhelming favourites knew they had lady luck on their side.
Head Coach Luis Norton de Matos went into the match with four changes from the squad which played the USA in the first match and as the Indians came out of their shell after the initial minutes, Colombia chased for most of the time.
India created the first real chance of the match in the 15th minute, a move that actually should have given them the lead. Following an attack down the right where the triangle of Jeakson, Ninthoi and Boris managed to outwit the rivals, Captain Amarjit snatched it and thereafter Abhijit Sarkar sneaked in and unleashed a stunning right-footer which was somehow managed to be palmed away by the rival Goalkeeper.
Spurred, the Indians grew in confidence.
Colombia were lucky as Ninthoi’s pass was just that shade longer for Rahim Ali three minutes later, and then, the next minute Jeakson’s blind turn foxed the entire rival midfield but they managed to recover fast.
By then the Indians were willing to come out of their shell. Boris Singh on the right flank was combining well with Ninthoi initiating as Colombia guessed.
Colombia, however, did have a chance in the 37th minute when the dangerous Campaz headed it but an acrobatic Dheeraj Singh was agile to punch it away.
The woodwork then came to Colombia’s rescue in added time. Boris, as he is known to do, held onto the ball evading a series of tackles and laid if for KP Rahul but even as Rahul’s rasping left-footer beat the rival goalie, it bounced off the post.
Changing over, Colombia surged into the lead almost immediately – Penaloza’s left-footer swerving away from Dheeraj to bulge the net.
But India were not to be dejected. The very next minute Abhijit failed to connect off a Ninthoi cross and then the next minute, Rahul, all free, despite all his leap failed to head it in off a Ninthoi cross.
Matos made his first change in the 66th minute – Anket Jadhav replacing Abhijit and with Boris suffering from cramps, Matos brought in his second change in the 72nd minute – Nongdamba Naorem replacing him.
Naorem should have scored with his first touch. Aniket’s deft skills split open the rival defence and set it up for Naorem but the latter despite having the rival Goalkeeper at his mercy couldn’t get it past him. It was a sheer frustration for the boys in blue.
The equalizer, so much inevitable, came in the 81st minute. But Colombia had the last laugh.