FIFA U-17 WC 2017: Braveheart India go down against Columbia

India 1-2 Columbia
Team India went down fighting against Columbia in their second group stage encounter in the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017
Team India were ever so close to snatch their first ever points in the FIFA U-17 World Cup but it was not to be as Columbia silenced the home crowd with a 2-1 victory in the Group A encounter played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi on Monday 10th October 2017. India were certainly no pushovers and the display from the young Indian team was far better than their 3-0 loss to USA in their opening game.

Despite having lion's share of possession, it was India who had the first clear cut chance in front of the goal with Abhijit Sarkar being denied by a classy save from Colombian custodian after some crisp interplay by the Indians. The woodwork came to Columbia's rescue when Rahul KP's stupendous effort struck the frame moments before the half time whistle. Indian gaffer Luis Norton de Matos would surely have regretted the scoreline remaining goalless

Columbia took the lead early in the second half from a ferocious thunderbolt by Penaloza. India however did not sit back instead they reacted. More bodies were put to regain possession and it seemed to pay off as Columbia were matched with every move. Attacks were being built from the back and the overall build up play improved. Boris, coming back from suspension, on the right flank was extremely influential with his lung bursting runs while the center backs pairing of Namit Deshpande and Anwar Ali were hardly allowing Columbia any clear cut opportunities. Substitute Nongdamba Naorem was impressive yet again and he very well could have earned the equalizer for the Blues. After some good combination play on the left hand side with Aniket, Nongdamba dribbled past the Colombian defense line before his low effort was saved by the outstretched legs of the opponent goalkeeper.

The historical moment came in the 81st minute when Jeakson Singh became the first ever Indian to score in any FIFA World Cup. His superb header found the back of the net as India equalized and the crowd went berserk.

“You are at your most vulnerable when you have just scored” -  the old cliché turned true. It was heartbreak for Team India as they conceded in the next move with the defense caught asleep. For once the center back pairing were not in sync and Peñaloza took full advantage rolling the ball past a hapless Dheeraj, who had very little to do with the goal. Indian team threw more bodies in search of the equalizer which never really came. Meanwhile Indian custodian Dheeraj, who had yet another stupendous game, pulled of a spectacular save to deny Columbia a breather. Much to the disappointment of the home supporters, the scoreline remained 2-1 in favor of the visitors. Though with the defeat the chances of progressing to the knockouts look extremely thin, yet it was proud to see the youngsters giving an extremely tough fight to their South American counterparts.

It was not a defeat rather it was an outright statement of intent from the young Indian team that they can compete at the highest level given that their career path is well set up. The match showed what this Indian team is capable of but one should hope that the infrastructure and the roadmap is in place to take these youngsters to the next level.

Well played team India, Very well played!
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About Debraj Banerjee

Hi, I am Debraj Banerjee from Adra, West Bengal. A keen follower of Indian football and always an optimist that the game will get the recognition it truely deserves. What we ask from you is your support and one day the dream might turn true. Fingers crossed for Indian football. Cheers!

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