In a match which was a tale of two halves, India U-16 lost lead and match to go down 2-3 to the United Arab Emirates in its Group A opener of the AFC U-16 Championship India 2016 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on Wednesday (September 15).
A superior and dominant India led 2-1 at the interval, a half which should have produced more goals. India entered the rival box almost all throughout and had many a clear chance and shy. But the boys failed to add to the margin.
For India Sanjeev Stalin opened the scoring in the 10th minute while Boris Singh scored the second in the 36th while for UAE, Manea Aydh and Majid Rashid scored one each in the 34th and 53rd minute.
India was much faster off the blocks in the first half and the purpose was evident. The first chance came as early as the 4th minute. Komal Thatal with a sudden burst of speed entered the rival box but the rival defender recovered in time to force him to run into an acute angle. That didn’t deter Komal and his left footer agonisingly missed the target rolling across the goalmouth by an inch.
Perhaps it set the tone for the rest of the half.
Five minutes later a combined move almost saw India take the lead. Suresh playing the perfect blocker played a one-two with Komal, who turned to find Aniket on the right wing. Even as Aniket sidestepped his marker and essayed it in, the ball deflected straight into rival goalie Hareth Salem off a rival defender.
The very next moment Aman Chetri’s centre was headed by Boris only to be collected by a leaping Salem.
The first goal came thereafter, in the 10th minute. It was viciously curled in by Sanjeev Stalin off a free-kick from the edge of the box after Amarjit, standing near laid it perfectly for Sanjeev. Rarely do you see goals of that calibre.
The plethora of passes has a telling effect. The flanks were operational and by the 21st minute, both Aniket and Boris had even switched ends.
Spurred, India attacked but the rebounds were not just falling to them. In the 24th minute, Komal’s left-footer was collected by a diving Salem.
Much against the run of play UAE equalised in the 34th minute. The goal had a bit of drama to it. UAE earned a penalty as Goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh foiled Adulla Al Naobi inside the box. But seconds later, even as a diving Dheeraj dived left to palm off Majid Rashid’s placement, UAE scored off the resultant corner – the ball getting deflecting in by Ayadh.
Hardly had the celebrations ended, India struck again off the very next attack. Aniket dribbled past three on the left flank, cut in, ran on the line and laid it for Boris to blast it in. The goal had relief, jubilation and class – it would have been wrong for a Team do much dominant to stay tied at that stage.
The match perhaps could have been settled just prior to the interval had Aman’s placement found the target off an Aniket pass. But it was one among those many chances.
Changing over, UAE weathered the storm. The team pushed India into its own half and pulled in back in the 53rd minute through Majid Rashid.
Stung, India pressed the pedal. In the 56th minute, Boris was a bit too faster to handle on the left flank but he didn’t have the last laugh as a diving Salem kept him at bay. Two minutes later, Salem came to his Team’s rescue again as he fisted away Sanjeev’s dipping free-kick.
India didn’t fade away but UAE looked to be the better side. The team preferred to play over the defence line and it paid dividends – the match winner coming through Ahmad Fawzi in the 73rd minute.
India play its next match against Saudi Arabia at the PJN Stadium, fatorda, Goa on 18th September 2016.
Iran defeats Saudi Arabia
Substitute Alireza Asadabadi's winner capped a stunning victory for Iran as it came from behind to defeat Saudi Arabia 3-2 in the 2016 AFC U-16 Championship opener on Thursday.
Mansor Al Beshe had begun the day's action in stunning fashion with a superb strike inside five minutes before Dhari Al Anazi doubled the advantage just before the break.
Iran roared back after half-time though and Allahyar Sayyad made it 2-1 two minutes into the second period before Mohammad Sharifi and then Asadabadi completed the comeback in a dramatic two-minute spell at Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
Midfielder Al Beshe netted the tournament’s first goal in spectacular style. Four minutes in, he unleashed a thunderous strike from 25-yards out that rocketed into the net past the despairing dive of Meraj Esmaeili in the Iran goal.
The Iranians looked to restore parity in swift succession and captain Aref Alipour did go close with a free-kick from distance on 19 minutes.
And just after the half-hour mark, Mohammad Ghaderi went even closer as the midfielder wriggled into the penalty area before striking a shot that was well saved by Hashem Al Asmari.
Abbas Chamnian’s team continued to press for an equaliser but were kept out by a resolute Saudi side which then went on to extend its lead three minutes before half-time when Mali crossed in from the left for the onrushing Al Anazi to steer home.
Within the seconds of the restart Iran could have reduced the deficit but Sayyad volleyed Saeid Ahani’s cross over the bar.
The substitute was not to be denied a second time in quick succession though as on the 47th minute Sayyad broke through on goal and struck the ball emphatically past Al Asmari.
The action flashed from end-to-end as Al Anazi could have restored the two goal cushion but somehow blazed over from six-yards out after Esmaeili could only parry Mali’s shot.
But in the space of just two minutes, the scoreline turned on its head.
On 68 minutes, Mohammad Sharifi turned home from a goalmouth scramble after a corner and just moments later, with Saudi Arabia still reeling from the leveller, Asadabadi found himself one-on-one with Al Asmari and finished coolly to spark frenzied celebrations on the Iran bench.
Saudi Arabia could have snatched a point at the death as Mali flicked the ball on for Naif Al Mas but the captain could only blaze his shot over as Iran secured the victory.
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