The India U-19 National Team with a well-deserved 4-1 victory over U-17 world cuppers New Caledonia, continued their winning run in the ongoing OFC Developmental Tournament at the Korman Stadium in Port Vila, Vanuatu on Wednesday, August 21.
Vikram Partap Singh (17′) opened the scoring early before Aman Chetri (41′) doubled the lead. India maintained the urgency in the attacking third and eventually, scored two more, thanks to the composure shown by Ricky Shabong (74′) and Gurkirat Singh (79′) inside the box. Lues Waya (83′) converted the spot-kick but it could not deter the inevitable.
Coach Floyd Pinto who, on the other day advocated about building a ‘core team’ before the upcoming SAFF Championship, fielded an unchanged team who got the better of hosts Vanuatu two days ago.
For the opening goal, Ninthoi burst into a defence-splitting run from the left and the resulting pass was calmly converted by Vikram Partap Singh from handshaking distance in the 17th minute.
Aman Chetri scored another with five minutes before half time to put India in a driver’s seat at the end of the first half. Givson took a short free-kick to Ninthoi, who floated in a looping ball for Thoiba and the defender calmly placed in on a platter to Aman. The striker, having cut his marker loose, tapped it home to double the lead.
After the resumption, India didn’t show any intent to change the gear and continued to push to extend the lead. Coach Pinto, to assess his bench-strength, introduced Jeakson, Ravi Rana and Manvir Singh upfront withdrawing Aman, Givson and Vikram respectively.
Ninthoi, the craftsman behind both goals, played a significant role behind the goal by Ricky Shabong too. He intercepted a feeble goal-kick and rolled it to the 18-yard-box. Manvir laid it off and an onrushing Ricky didn’t hesitate to blast it into the back of the net in the 74th minute.
Five minutes later, defender brought down Manvir inside the box and the referee didn’t think twice before blowing her whistle and awarding the Blue colts a spot-kick. Super-sub Gurkirat Singh, with his usual composure, outfoxed the goalkeeper to send him the wrong way.
Sumit Rathi, in the 83rd minute, got into the referee’s book owing to a challenge on an opponent attacker and Lues Waya scored the only consolation goal for the Oceanian country from the 12-yard spot.
India will face-off with Tahiti for the 1/2 place play-off at the same venue on Saturday, August 24.
INDIA U-19: Prabhsukhan Gill [C] (74′ Biaka Jongte) – Thoiba Singh (74′ Sanoop), Bikash Yumnam, Mohammed Rafi, Sumit Rathi – Jitendra Singh, Ricky Shabong (74′ Gurkirat Singh), Ninthoi Meitei (74′ Hormipam), Vikram Partap Singh (61′ Manvir Singh), Givson Singh (61′ Ravi Bahadur Rana); Aman Chetri (61′ Jeakson Singh)