The India U-16 national team, represented by the All India Football Federation U-16 Regional Academy boys from Kalyani, finished fourth in their maiden stint at the prestigious Broersen.nl International Youth Selection Tournament in Heemskerk, The Netherlands on Sunday.
Narrow reversals to U-17 teams of Dutch heavyweights AZ Alkmaar and Israel’s top club Maccabi Tel Aviv for the third place clash and cross final respectively saw the India U-16 boys settle for a fourth spot after dominating performances in both the matches.
After falling behind to a first-half penalty winner in the cross final (winner to play in the final) against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the boys, scored at the death to restore parity through Bodo Baoringdao after they had fallend behind in the first half.
Abiding by the rule of direct penalties for third place clash, the match went to tie-breaker where Nijwm Muchahary muffed from the spot with the score at 3-2 after Prosenjit Chakroborty and Krishna Pandit had converted their takes.
The 2013 SAFF U-16 Champions played admirably well yesterday (August 9) in the group stages to upend Deportivo Saint Maickol and SBV Excelsior 1-0 before drawing with defending champions FC Volendam 2-2 after coming from behind to lead 2-1 for most part of the match.
Coming to today’s matches, group winners Maccabi Tel Aviv – on the back of two group stage routs of 7-0 each and a hard fought 1-1 stalemate against Dutch club AZ Alkmaar – started on a brighter note.
The Indian colts sat back to combat the going-for-the-kill gameplay in the opening stages looking to pounce on the counter.
But that was not to be as Maccabi took the lead in the last minute of first half, earning a penalty. They converted from the spot sending keeper Dheeraj Singh the wrong way.
The boys in blue pressed hard for the equaliser from the start of the second half with their opponents content to defend deep and thwart every move with more numbers at the back.
Time wore on and despite few half chances at the death the scoreline remained the same at the final whistle.
A place in the finals now gone, third place seemed decent but a steep challenge in the form of AZ Alkmaar stood ahead.
Goalkeeper Dheeraj found himself second best under the bar, failing to judge an aerial ball and thus conceding a goal at his back post in the first half of the match.
The score stayed such till second half added time when the never say die attitude of the rose to prominence. Edmund Lalrindika skipped past two defenders to set up Bodo who rounded the keeper to slot home from close.
Penalties it was and had it not been for in form Niwjm who somehow lost his footing while taking his spot kick with the score at 3-2, luck would have favoured the brave.
(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)