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

India U-16 put six past Lebanon U-16

India U-16 national team
India U-16 national team

Photo courtesy: AIFF Media

Half a dozen goals! It doesn’t come everyday but it happened at the Tabriz Yadegar-E-Emam Stadium on Sunday (September 20). One doesn’t need to explain more.

India’s future U-17 FIFA World Cup Team finished their engagements in the AFC U-16 Championship Qualifiers in style with a convincing 6-0 victory against a strong Lebanon in Tabriz City.

Besides a hat-trick by Suresh, Komal and Amarjit scored one apiece. The other was an own goal by Habib in a desperate attempt to thwart a Komal centre.

The India U-16 team led 1-0 at the interval.

In the process, India finish second in Group E with six points from three matches and despite being the hosts and an automatic Qualifier to the AFC U-16 Championship Finals slated to be held in India next year, the colts stay on course to get a direct Qualification spot as the second best finisher among all groups.

At the Official Post match Media Interaction Head Coach Nicolai Adam mentioned that “Football at the U-16 level should be played like this.”

“I had said after our defeat to Iran that I did not like the performance of both the Teams on that day and I stay with my opinion,” he opined. “Today we saw U-16 Football as U-16 Football should be played – tactically and possession wise and not just long balls as it was on display in the match against Iran,” he added.

“I am extremely happy with the result and respect my boys for doing exactly what they were asked to do,” he stated.

“It’s only from July 1 that I started training the Team and I need to mention about my immense respect for the Technical people who were in charge of the Team prior to me taking charge,” the German Coach quipped.

“Our Technical Director Scott O’Donell and former Technical Director Robert Baan had selected 50 percent of the present squad much prior to me joining and I selected 50 percent of the remaining. Many of the Players who excelled in the Championship were selected prior. My Assistant Coaches were also in charge prior to me taking over the job,” he informed.

That the scouting process will continue, Nicolai had stressed to AIFF Media in earlier reports.

Gholam Ghader, Head Coach of Lebanon, admitted “India dominated completely in the second half.”

“They were more prepared and I feel India were the best Team in the Group,” he commented. “They were fitter and were better on everything, tactically much superior,” he opined.

From the stands, keeping track of the series of attacks on the rival citadel was tough indeed.

The first goal came in the 28th minute. It was a buildup from the back and even as Amarjit with his sudden burst of speed caught the rival midfield unaware, he found Suresh for support, and in the clear. Once Suresh received it, he sidestepped his marker and his grounder from almost 25 yards beat a diving rival Goalkeeper Mohammad Zahr to his right.

That apart there were other chances too, the most prominent of them coming in injury time of the first half. Aman was found in the clear by Suresh but the former delayed that split second to allow the rival defence recover.

Changing over, it was demolition by domination. India were unlucky not to double the lead in the 48th minute itself. As Sanjeev sped down the left and centered, Komal tried to finish it first time but missed the target by a whisker. Lebanon survived.

In the 55th minute, Boris tried a long ranger but Zahr collected on his second attempt. By then, the Indian colts were totally in command and controlling proceedings.

In the 58th minute, Aman snatched it from Habib at the centre circle, ran past him and entered the box but failed to finish it off – his weak shot going straight to Zahr.

In the 59th minute, Gaston failed to connect off a corner. The very next minute, Boris cut in but even as he tried to chip it over, Zahr regained composure to collect it. The second goal seemed inevitable but it was not just coming.

But the wait wasn’t long. It eventually came in the 71st minute; and it came straight from the coaching manual.

Suresh ran past the rival midfield, played an one-two with Aman as he entered the box and once it got it back, he rounded past Zahr and tapped it in.

Thereafter, the flood gates opened with the next two goals coming in the next two minutes.

The third one was an own goal – the curly haired Lebanon central defender Habib shot into his own net in a desperate attempt to intercept Komal’s low centre which would have otherwise found Aman in the clear.

The very next minute, Komal got his name on the list when he followed up to head off a rebound over Zahr’s outstretched hands.

Amarjit made it 5-0 in the 80th and perhaps it was poetic justice that the one who started it finished it off – Suresh completing his hat-trick in the 89th minute.

The India U-16 squad flies to Spain from Tabriz. With the AGS Cup having got cancelled, they would be playing six matches against Spanish club sides against the likes of Real Sociedad, FC Levante, Villarreal, amongst others.

(Report & Photo courtesy AIFF Media)