At the end of India's narrow defeat to Colombia in the second group stage game, the fans at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium stood up to show their appreciation for the way the young colts stood up and fought against Colombia. And by the end of its third and final match against Ghana, India had lost all its three matches, conceded nine and scored only one goal. But it has managed to capture the imagination of the fans who had cheered on India's first stint in a World Cup event. India's head coach was hugely appreciative of the boys and bit back at the critics, "Would love to see how senior India teams perform against senior teams of these countries! Had it been Nepal, Bhutan or Maldives, it could be different. But I am proud of this team and we need to invest in them.”
De Matos highlighted attention on to the hard work done by the Indian defenders, who maintained an organized shape and not letting its superior opponents from queueing up to take shots at will on Dheeraj's goal. The centre-back Anwar Ali played a crucial role in helping India within fighting length of its opponents. In a physical test against Colombia, Ali came to the fore making crucial tackles, interceptions and winning aerial duels albeit suffering from knocks throughout the game. He also came close to scoring India's opening goal of the tournament when he rattled the bar with a powerful shot against USA.
Jeakson's name will be on the lips of every Indian football fans for years to come when he became the first Indian footballer to score a goal in a FIFA World Cup. He was brought in to the side after India's opening game loss and he played a disciplined role in middle of the park with his skipper Amarjit Singh to help keep Colombia at bay for long spells.
Dheeraj came out as the biggest star for India in the World Cup for his superb shot-stopping abilities. The nine goals which went against name might not reflect well while looking up his name in the statistics board as India let in late goals while chasing a game. His point blank saves against USA and his assured presence under the bar against physical sides like Colombia and Ghana would have put the Manipur-born 'keeper in the radar for leading Indian clubs to keep an eye out for.
Amarjit Singh was a mainstay in a two man centre-midfield - screening the back four - putting in tireless shifts against quality attackers. Named skipper in the days leading up to the tournament, Singh held his own leading his side in front of 50,000 plus home crowd in all three matches. He was the main outlet for India's forwards to break up front, crucially in his side's gutsy second half performance against Colombia, but struggled at times under constant pressure from the opposition midfield.
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