A much improved India U-17 national team continued their 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup – Group A campaign with a 1-2 loss to Colombia at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Monday, October 9 night.
India U-17 coach Luis Norton de Matos made as many as four changes bringing in Boris Thangjam Singh, Namit Deshpande, Jeakson Thounaojam and Rahim Ali to a different line-up and tactic, which wasn’t as defensive as against the USA.
While October 6, 2017 will be remembered as the day India made its debut at a FIFA World Cup; October 9, 2017 will be remembered for India’s first-ever goal in a FIFA World Cup when Jeakson Singh headed in a thunderbolt in the 82nd minute.
From the start Colombia had more of the ball, but India the much better chances.
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 Kevin Mier.
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 Leandro Campaz headed it but an acrobatic and alert Dheeraj Singh was agile to punch it away.
The woodwork then came to Colombia’s rescue in first half added time. Boris, as he is known to do, held onto the ball evading a series of tackles and laid if for Rahul Kannoly 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 – Juan Penaloza’s left-footer swerving away from Dheeraj to bulge the net after having beaten a number of Indian defenders.
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 – Aniket 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 equaliser, so much inevitable, came in the 82nd minute of a Jeakson Singh header and the whole stadium erupted in joy, but it didn’t last long as Colombia had the last laugh with again Juan Penaloza scoring the very next minute for the South Americans and snatching a draw, which would have been a fair result on the night.