The India U-19 National Team overpowered Tahiti in the 1/2 place play-off of the OFC Youth Development Tournament at the Korman Stadium in Port Vila, Vanuatu today (August 24, 2019). Two second-half strikes from Manvir Singh (71′) and Vikram Partap Singh (88′) proved to be enough for the Blue Colts to have the last laugh against their Oceanic opponents.
Coach Floyd Pinto named the same starting XI that stormed past New Caledonia three days earlier to seal the 1/2 place play-off date with Tahiti today.
Givson was given a free role at the heart of the midfield where Ninthoi’s agile movement down the flanks proved to be too harrowing for the Tahitian defenders. In the third minute, Ninthoi volleyed from an acute angle only to see it sail over the crossbar.
Givson and Ninthoi were trying tooth and nail to breach the Tahiti defence but the red outfit kept them at bay until the referee ended the first half.
India were unarguably the better side in the first 45 minutes having placed 4 shots on target out of total 12 attempts. On the other hand, Tahiti failed to create any formidable opportunity inside the 18-yard-box, thanks to India’s command in the midfield.
After the breather, Pinto introduced Gurkirat Singh replacing Aman Chetri in the attacking third who eventually, helped another substitute Manvir Singh score his first goal of the tournament to provide India with a much-deserved lead in the 71st minute.
Ninthoi, with his blistering pace, cut through the Tahiti defence from the middle and served it on a platter to Gurkirat, who found the target man Manvir inside the 6-yard-box and the latter did no mistake to steer a spectacular header to bamboozle the goalkeeper.
Vikram, who ran tirelessly throughout, came very close to add one to his tally but slipped inside the box to let the opportunity go in the 81st minute.
He didn’t need more than seven minutes to make amends for the misses as he converted a chip from Gurkirat two minutes from the end of the regulation time which confirmed the Blue colts’ third win on the bounce.
Gurkirat collected a long ball from Bikash and dodged past the defenders to chip it to an onrushing Vikram who was surprisingly overlooked by the defenders. Vikram, with a low flat header from outside the 6-yard-box, deceived the goalkeeper to score his second goal in the tournament. Gurkirat subsequently got his second assist of the match.
Following this triumph in Oceania, India U-19 National team now shifts their focus to SAFF U-19 Championship which is scheduled in September this year.