In its first SAFF U-18 Championship contest, the Indian U-18 football team was held to a goalless draw by Bangladesh at the APF Stadium in Kathmandu on Monday.

The Indians started the match on an attacking note but an injury to goalkeeper Prabhsukan Singh Gill in the ninth minute meant that Floyd Pinto, the head coach, had to make an early change. With Bangladesh committing bodies in defence, India wasn't able to break through.

India's chances came through set pieces. In the 36th minute, Sumit Rathi came close to giving India the lead, but his header flew inches over the bar.

The second half was similar to the first. India dominated possession but failed to create opportunities to break the deadlock. The team made two changes to bolster its attack, but it didn't yield dividends.

'Difficult game'

Pinto admitted it “it was a difficult game” for his wards.

“Bangladesh defended with 10 men, and I have to give credit to the boys for not stopping to put in the effort. We have got a point from this match is a minor positive. But these boys will improve as the tournament progresses, and their quality of football will also improve,” Pinto said.

India next plays Sri Lanka on Wednesday. It will be its last contest in the Group Stage. The Sri Lankans had been defeated 3-0 by Bangladesh.

Top two teams from the group will qualify for the semifinals on September 27, 2019.