THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

Dominant India U-18 team beat Felda United

India U-19 v Felda United FC
India U-19 v Felda United FC

Photo courtesy: AIFF Media

Domination creates chances and provides excitement promising so much for the future.

Describing a match where one creates minimum of more than ten chances but returns home converting just one reflects both good and that not much of a good habit of muffing at regular intervals. “But it’s all part of a learning process.”

India U-18, far too dominant, nevertheless, did return home victorious by a solitary goal against Felda United FC, Malaysia in the FAM-Frenz Asia Champions Trophy 2015 at the Tilak Maidan, Vasco on Wednesday (September 2). Only that the smile could have been broader!

The colts after three matches stand on four points in the Championship.

In a match which could have been sealed well by the interval itself, the colts had to eventually wait till the 85th minute – on omnipresent Lallianzuala Chhangte placing it in past a diving rival Goalkeeper Amirul Rahman.

Lee Johnson, the Head Coach of India U-19 laughed it off as to whether it was frustrating to see those chances going beyond the target.

“The win was long overdue. I want to create a winning mentality. Players need to win and kill off games. When we created opportunities, you need to be ruthless. We could have won by a much bigger margin,” he stated.

“We need to be a bit more decisive and creative in those situations,” he added.

“I reiterate this wasn’t our strongest team. We are looking at new Players, trying out different positions as we want to take our best to the AFC U-19 Qualifiers. The Players need the licence to be creative and be fearless.”

The Indian U-18 boys were off the blocks faster. In the first half, they took over the mantle as soon as it kicked-off and though there were moments when Felda United FC counter-attacked, it didn’t prove much of a threat.

In reality, it was one-way traffic.

But the series of chances created didn’t get the finish which it deserved. Chances, as many as six went abegging in the first half itself.

The first chance from the series of attacks which hit the rival citadel came in the 10th minute – Sarthak Golui’s header off a corner being cleared on the line.

The Indian boys, comfortable with the Ball, stitched some delightful passes. With the ball, the quick one-twos, off the ball runs frustrated Felda United. And once they lost it, they pressed hard, not allowing much space to for the rivals to dictate.

The second chance followed in the 20th minute – the nimble footed Mawihmingthanga shrugged off his marker but his shot deflected off the post with an outstretched Amirul beaten.

In the 25th minute, the triangle of Captain Daniel Lalhlimpuia, Bidyananda Singh and Suman Sarkar split open the rival defence but Suman’s first-touch was that shade too long even as he was in the clear.

Three minutes later, Daniel muffed up what was the easiest chance of the first half. Set up by Chhangte Lallianzuala inside the box, his turn was lightning, but he failed to finish it off – his left-footer going straight to Amirul.

Daniel was again in the thick of action in the 35th minute but was tackled in the nick of time as he was about to pull the trigger. The resultant corner, however, didn’t yield anything.

Thanga, off the last attack of the first half, had it in control but even as he entered the box, he shot straight to Amirul as the Teams headed into the interval locked goalless.

Changing over, Head Coach Lee Johnson brought in his first substitution – Ashique Muhamed replacing Bidyananda Singh in the 46th minute. Ashique immediately made an impact when he was brought down just outside the box – but the free-kick and the corner thereafter, didn’t help break the deadlock.

The Indian colts went close in the 55th minute. Four quick passes proved too much for the rivals but an overlapping Ranawade’s cross was gathered by Amirul as Daniel and Thanga were waiting to tap it in.

The very next minute, Zuala’s left-footer from inside the box went awry.

At the stroke of hour, Zuala shot wide from inside the box – his left footer curling away from the target. The ball, frustratingly enough, wasn’t just going in.

By this time, even the crowd failed to keep count. Zuala hit over from exactly the penalty spot when he had just the Goalkeeper to beat and then Ashique took it to an acute angle making it easier for Amirul to close it down.

On the positive side, the colts never looked short of stamina even in the Goan humidity. There was always someone for support and even by the 80th minute, they looked fresh and hungry.

The deadlock was eventually broken by Zuala with five minutes for the final whistle. Relief!

He could have added another in added time but blasted over from in front of an yawning net.

The smile just couldn’t get broader.

Felda United Coach Ahmad Sofian summed it up perfectly. “We gave a tough fight to the Home Team. But the better Team won.”

(Report & Photo courtesy AIFF Media)