India register an impressive victory over Nepal

India secure a impressive victory against Nepal
Kanchenjunga Stadium, Siliguri
FIFA International Friendly
India 2-0 Nepal
India: Sunil Chhetri – 21st, Clifford Miranda – 49th
AIFF Press Release

Did he dream of it when he was a kid? Did he dream of it when he got his first call for the National Team? Did he dream of it the day he had scored his first International Goal?

Moments in a Man’s life don’t come that often. As Strikers, both Sunil and Bhaichung Bhutia have had more than the common man. But this moment for Sunil was different. Hands outstretched, that moment of solitude in front of an estimated Crowd of over 17000. That was his celebration as he went past Bhaichung as India’s highest-
ever goalscorer.

Indian team and Nepal team walking out to the pitch,
The glowing lights at the Kanchenjunga Stadium ensured that Kanchenjunga, even in the dark, stayed a witness. After all, it was a historic moment for Indian Football.

A goal each in both halves ensured India beat Nepal 2-0 in an one-sided International Friendly in Siliguri. If Sunil scored the first, Clifford Miranda scored the second in the 49th, perfectly finishing off a counter-attack in the 49th minute.

Sunil scripted History in the 21st minute when India scored their first goal, which seemed inevitable till then. The movement started after Lalrindika Ralte found an unmarked Clifford Miranda on the left. Robin Singh, whose physical presence was a constant threat for Nepal neatly headed in Clifford’s cross but couldn’t beat an outstretched rival Goalkeeper Kiran Limbu. But an ice-cool Chhetri, following it up, slotted it home.

Even as crowd went wild, perhaps, no eyes turned to Bhaichung Bhutia who was in the stands. But those who did, just couldn’t miss the grin. Hands up, he was perhaps the loudest cheerleader, the same manner in which Chhetri, in his school-days, had cheered many of his Goals.

Maybe Sunil’s mom had tears in her eyes as she watched.

After the final whistle, the Sikkim Sniper walked up to the Man of the Moment in the dugout and embraced him.

“Score as many as you can, I am very happy for you today,” the Master said to his Disciple.

Earlier, India pressed right from the kick-off. In the very first minute itself, Francis Fernandes tried to round his way past Rabin Shresthta of the first attack of the Match.

But just as Francis was about to essay his cross, Shreshtha recovered in the nick of time to defy India. However, off the resultant corner rival Goalkeeper Kiran Limbu leapt higher than all to collect it.

It was the start which India needed. Play was stretched to the flanks, switched from one side to the other, a series of quick-passes interchanged and even play slowed down when necessary.

In the 13th minute, Chhetri, collecting the ball from the middle of the park, played a one-two with Mehtab Hossain and put Robin in the box. But the jungle of legs frustrated Robin.

In the very next minute, a brilliant counter-attack initiated by Mehtab didn’t get the result it deserved as Francis Fernandes’ left-footer form just outside the box hit the post.

As the match progressed, it was hard to keep a tab of the attacks. Rarely in the first half did Goalkeeper Karanjit Singh collect the ball.

Once Limbu palmed Robin’s prompt right-footer; the other time, he gathered Sunil’s powerful right-footer from close and almost every time, he managed to tip over those aerial crosses from the flanks as India went into the interval enjoying a 1-0 lead.

Post resumption, Clifford doubled it. The counter-attack was initiated by Mehtab who laid Robin on the right flank. Robin rushed it and his grounder was neatly tapped in by Miranda in the 49th minute.

In the meantime, Biraj Mahajan on the left flank was having a tough time to contain Miranda as the Dempo veteran’s feints kept him guessing.

Lalrindika who played in tandem with Mehtab had his push narrowly miss the mark in the 59th minute. Even as the ball bounced awkwardly in front of him, Ralte had managed to keep it down but even with Limbu beaten, it went out.

The next minute, Robin Singh hit the bar. This time, an overlapping debutant Narayan Das, the 476th Player to have played for India ran past the entire midfield and put it for Robin. But his powerful shot bounced off the upright.

Soon Victorino Fernandes became the 477th Player to have played for India when he came on as a substitute for Francis Fernandes in the 75th minute and then, Rocus Lamare came on for Lalrindika Ralte in the 83rd minute. Next, in the 85th minute, CK Vineeth replaced Miranda.

By then, Victorino had already created an impression on the right. His sudden burst of pace caught the rival defence on the wrong foot twice. But the scoresheet didn’t change.

INDIA: Karanjit Singh; Denzil Franco, Arnab Mondal. Aiborlang Khongjee, Narayan Das (Debut for India); Francis Fernandes (Victorino Fernandes – 75th), Mehtab Hossain, Lalrindika Ralte (Rocus Lamare – 83rd), Clifford Miranda (CK VIneeth – 85th), Sunil Chhetri (Captain), Robin Singh.
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