On a cool breezy evening in Al-Ram, the Indian Colts were left reeling for their missed opportunities as Afghanistan led by a solitary goal at half-time and scored against the run-of-play in the second half to take home the three points. However, the match would have been a different complexion altogether had the Indian colts had their goal-scoring boots on, but in the end football is a game of scoring goals and India miserably failed on that front in the tournament with no goal to their name.
In the 2nd minute, Lallianzuala's rocket-of-a-shot, which earned an acrobatic save from Moquem Matem rung the attacking bells for India. Six minutes later, Nishu Kumar's attempt was ricocheted off the Afghan defence for a corner kick. With India enjoying possession and controlling the tempo of the match, chances to score the opening goal of the match came in plenty. First, an Ashique cross from the left flank was headed wide by Lallianzuala, with the goal at his mercy in the 22nd minute.
Next, Bidyananda's spectacular effort from 25 yards earned an uncanny save from Matem, which fell into Lallianzuala's stride, who once again failed to blast the ball home from hand-shaking distance. As the Indian colts failed to make the most of their opportunities, Afghanistan capitalized from their single shot on goal in the first half, as they scored from a corner kick in the 44th minute.
Changing over, and the Indian colts fostered another goal scoring opportunity. This time Daniel's shot, after a tacky one-touch play around the Afghan 18-yard box was saved by Maten in the 46th minute. Two minutes later- déjà vu - as Daniel was once again denied the opportunity to open the goal scoring charts for India by Maten.
Even with Afghanistan committing bodies around their 18 yard box, India fostered goal scoring opportunities, however, to no avail. In the 60th minute, Afghanistan's custodian made a howler as he failed to collect Lallianzuala's whipped-in cross. However, the cross fell to Ashique, who instead of tapping it home slotted it wide. Two minutes later, the Indian colts were handed another golden opportunity to equalize their deficit as Nishu Kumar's shot went inches wide of the post, following a corner kick.
Head Coach Lee Johnson shuffled his pack and introduced Milan Basumatary in place of Bidyananda Singh in the 76th minute. And soon after the substitute came close to equalizing India's deficit as his shot earned a top-notch save from Maten. Thereafter, Afghanistan doubled their lead in the 79th minute and adopted a defensive stance to see out the match.
The Indian Colts leave for Indian shores tomorrow and will resume their participation in the FAM-FRENZ Asia Champions Trophy 2015 on October 14, 2015 when they clash swords against Thailand's Chonburi FC, next.
India Under-19s: Sukhadev Patil - Shahabaaz, Mohammed Sajid Dhot, Lalthakima, Nishu Kumar - Bidyananda Singh (76' Milan Basumatary), Malsawmzuala, Muhammed Ashique (87' Suman Sarkar), Lallianzuala, Mawihmingthanga, Daniel Lalhlimpuia [C]
(Report & Photo courtesy AIFF Media)