The India U-19 national team restored a considerable measure of pride when they rewrote the script by playing out a 2-2 draw in spite of going down to ten men in the 8th minute of the match against Turkmenistan in their final game of Group A of the AFC U-19 Championship Qualifiers here at the Al Arabi Stadium in Doha on Saturday (October 12, 2013).
“When you play with ten men for 86 minutes of the match, it is very difficult to win,” Head Coach Colm Joseph Toal told reporters at the post match Press Conference.
“Our Boys showed what they are made of by not only dishing out a spirited display but also dominating large parts of the second half,” he added.
Berenov converted from the spot to score the opener for Turkmenistan but a spirited India endured the first half with ten men only to better their efforts in the second when Sarthak Golui equalised from a corner.
India took the lead in the 84th minute through Kumam Udanta Singh but were unlucky not to win the match as their opponents pulled one back much against the run of play a minute later courtesy Kovusov.
India were down to ten men with the match only eight minutes old when defender Sajid Dhot was given marching orders for handling ball inside the 18-yard box.
Turkmenistan was awarded a penalty and Berenov converted from the spot. Striker Uttam Rai had to sacrifice his first start of the tournament as Rupert Lamlang Nongrum replaced him to fill the void left by Sajid in the right back position.
Down to ten men with the match in its teenage, the Boys in Blue not only kept shape but also braved the numerical disadvantage to raid the opponent’s citadel whenever possible.
Isaac Chhakchuak – playing his first match of the meet – almost scored with his cross-shot from the right in the 34th minute.
India looked a different team in the second half. In spite of playing with ten men, Toal’s Boys went on the offensive from the word go after the restart and were three minutes into it when first-timer Sarthak nodded in Germanpreet Singh’s in swinging corner.
The flurry of activity in the Turkmenistan half continued as India maintained the pressure in their final third. Kumam Udanta Singh missed a guilt-edged opportunity apart from forcing a couple of good saves from Turkmenistan goalkeeper Atabayev and Isaac terrorised the Turk left-back Hurmenov with is darting runs down the right channel.
Isaac was replaced by Alen Deory in the 78th minute as India looked for the winner, quite against the script in terms of numbers.
Udanta was finally rewarded for his industry up front when he was teed up by Germanpreet just outside the area. Udanta made no mistake stroking home after slaloming past his marker.
But India’s joy was short-lived as Turkmenistan rode luck to equalise one minute later as Kovusov netted off a melee.
Coach Toal made three changes to the side that played against Uzbekistan on Thursday (October 10, 2013).
While Sarthak replaced fullback Gurba Gagrai with Sajid playing at the right back position making way for Sarthak at the heart of the defence, Isaac filled in Shaiborlang Kharpan’s place on the right wing. Uttam was the other inclusion, playing in place of Daniel Lalhlimpuia up front.
(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)