There are downs in life as much there are ups. A bad day in Office kills all the good work done earlier. A spell of 5 minutes midway in the first half when India’s U-16 boys, very much against the run of play conceded three goals, never allowed them to come back in a crucial match against hosts and strong contenders Uzbekistan.
India lost 0-9 to stay on 6 points from three matches while Uzbekistan moved to the top of the Group with six points from two matches. In the present situation, India need a win in their last outing against Tajikistan for a berth in the AFC U-16 Final Phase of the Competition.
The manner in which India begun right after kick-off was quite reminiscent of their 2-1 victory in the last match against Bahrain. In the first 18 minutes India had moved into scoring positions twice – once Uttam Rai’s quick half-turner inside the box hit a leg in the crowd and went off; and once Harmanjot Singh hurried into his cross which went straight to the rival goalkeeper.
The midfield led by Lalramzuava was pressing hard and play was being switched to the flanks, keeping the rivals guessing.
So much so, that even when Abbasov Shohjahon headed in Uzbekistan’s first goal in the 18th minute, all stayed confident India will pull it back. Uzbekistan had only defended till then.
“The worst fears came true,” Coach Thomas Joseph commented. “Once we conceded, we were not able to control it.”
“Uzbekistan are a very talented and a strong side. But we were nowhere near our potential. The last match is a must-win for us.”
The biggest challenge for the Team Management and the boys stay to shrug off the loss, pull themselves and look ahead to the next match; and the faster, the better.
The boys, usually chirpy, didn’t utter a single word in the Dressing Room and on the Team Bus. The state of shock brought together a promise. ‘We have to win our last outing, and at any cost – and we can do it.’
All is not lost yet.
(AIFF Press Release / Written by Nilanjan Datta)