FIFA U-17 WC: Jeakson scores India’s first goal in narrow loss to Colombia

If only India could shackle the lanky Juan Penaloza, who knocked in both the goals for Colombia in the 49th and 83rd minute after Jeakson Thounaojam had equalised in the 82nd with a header from a corner...

India’s Jeakson Thounaojam celebrates with his team-mates after scoring India's first goal during the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 football match against Colombia in New Delhi on Monday.   -  PTI

 

They worked up the pace and drummed up the spirit to challenge Colombia at every step but lacked the flair to finish. When they did manage, the Colombians hit back within a minute.

Match Centre

A vociferous audience participated in India’s endeavour to make a fight of it in the group fixture of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Monday. If only India could shackle the lanky Juan Penaloza, who knocked in both the goals for Colombia in the 49th and 83rd minute after Jeakson Thounaojam had equalised in the 82nd with a header from a corner.

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  India’s hopes may have receded temporarily but there were encouraging indications of the game commanding the attention of the nation. The Indian colts ensured it on a wonderful night that earned them profound appreciation of the fans.

Colombia closed the contest 2-1 to stay in the reckoning from the group after United States became the first team to go ahead with a 1-0 win against Ghana, which meets India in its last league match on Thursday.

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Indian began by resting Suresh Singh, Jitendra Singh, Aniket Jadhav and Komal Thatal. Colombia went in with four changes too to show its intent to attack more – Andres Perea, Brayan Gomez, Robert Mejia and Etilso Martinez.

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There was early excitement when Abhijit Sarkar broke into the Colombian box as the audience rose to its feet only to fritter away the chance by placing it over the advancing goalkeeper. It was a credit that goalkeeper Kevin Mier managed to palm off the danger as Sarkar and Rahim Ali created a crafty tandem.

The Colombians were rattled by the spirit that the Indian colts put up, chasing every opponent, crowding the strikers, leaving little space to manoeuvre. Colombia adopted desperate measures, explored through counters but this was a motivated Indian combination that stood up bravely.

India's Jackson Singh Thounaojam and others jump for a header during their FIFA U-17 World Cup against Colombia in New Delhi on Monday.   -  AP

 

The danger of leaving its goal unguarded was always there as India looked to score. In a casual movement, the ball was conceded and Yadir Meneses let go a scorching left footer which Dheeraj blocked with élan. A little earlier he had foiled Leandro Campaz’s header with superb anticipation. India, however, wasted its best chance when Rahul Kannoly hit the post after being fed by Boris Thangjam.

The Indian resistance suffered a hole in the fifth minute on resumption when Colombia grabbed the chance just inside the box. Juan Penaloza stabbed the ball into the right corner with a hard left-footed drive. To Indian supporters, the goal may have appeared against the run of play but Colombia had waited and planned the execution. A chance to equalise went waste in the 75th minute when substitute Naoram shot into the goalkeeper from handshaking distance.

Coach Luis Norton de Matos could take pride in his team as it trooped out to a standing ovation from the audience amidst chants of “India, India.”