A couple of days after the Indian Senior National Team were crowned champions in the Hero Tri-Nation Football Series, the U-15 National Team, comprising of All India Football Federation’s Regional Academy boys won the SAFF U-15 Championships with a splendid display in the final against hosts Nepal in Kathmandu on Sunday (August 27, 2017).
Playing in front of a partisan crowd at the ANFA Complex, Satdobato in Lalitpur, India came back from behind to beat Nepal 2-1 in the final. Down by a goal at the interval, goals from Lalrokima and Vikram guided India to a deserving 2-1 victory.
Congratulating the U-15 Team for the achievement, All India Football President Praful Patel said: “Congratulations to the boys and entire staff. The manner the boys have played is a clear indication of how a structured Youth Development Programme can raise the bar.”
Kushal Das, General Secretary, AIFF said: “The AIFF Academy boys won many hearts with their splendid display. The Academy programme has been yielding results and I am confident this bunch of boys would go on to bring more laurels for the Country. Congratulations!”
India came out the stronger of the two teams with the boys passing the ball around in the midfield. Ravi came close to scoring in the 14th minute while Harpreet’s header missed the target narrowly soon after. Ravi shot it straight into the keeper’s hands as India launched one attack after another.
India looked like the team more likely to score but Nepal earned a penalty against the run of play in the 40th minute. The penalty was converted as Nepal headed to the dressing room leading 1-0 at the interval.
India could have equalised right at the beginning of the second half but the players couldn’t finish off their chances. Givson’s free-kick struck the cross bar in the 56th minute as luck continued to elude the boys.
Finally, Lalrokima struck in the 58th minute to bring things level. The goal infused life into the game as India roared in search of their second goal.
Sailo’s effort was saved while Vikram hit it just wide as India bombarded the Nepal goalfront. But the Nepali defence stone walled every effort until captain Vikram netted the ball in the 74th minute to put India into the lead. The boys didn’t take the foot off the pedal as they looked for the third with Nepal barely managing to avoid conceding another.
The last few minutes saw Nepal putting in long balls as they moved forward in search of an equaliser but the Indian defence stood tall.