Dammam: The Indian U-19 team registered it’s first win of the AFC U-19 Championship Qualifiers defeating Turkmenistan 3-0 to end their campaign on a high at the Prince Mohammad bin Fahad Stadium on Wednesday. Skipper Amarjit Singh opened the scoring while Abhishek Halder and Edmund scored two late goals, to help India finish with four points from three matches in the tournament.
“We will be playing for a win and looking to end the qualifiers on a positive note,” Indian coach Luis Norton de Matos had said prior to the match and the ‘Boys in Blue’ did just that, maintaining a high possession on the ball and creating goal scoring chances in plenty. Nongdamba Naorem could have scored as early as the second minute but lost the ball in the opposition D. The 13th minute saw Rahim Ali’s shot easily saved by the Turkmenistan custodian followed by another save, minutes later.
Turkmenistan rarely threatened the Indian citadel, as India kept on piling up the pressure, putting the opposition players on the back-foot which helped in bringing the Indian defenders into the attack. However despite all those repeated attacks, India still could not find a breakthrough as the first half drew to an end, goalless.
The same continued in the second-half as India build up attacks from the flanks and could have gone ahead in the 51st minute. But Boris Singh, who was send clear on goal after a neat one-two with Abhishek Halder, placed his shot wide off the mark, as India’s best chance went bagging. Minutes later Anwar Ali’s header from a Sanjeev Stalin corner went inches over the bar.
Amarjit Singh made a wonderful run in the 74th minute before firing a bullet in that shook the net, helping India take the valuable lead. The goal seemed to have open the floodgates and six minutes later Abhishek Halder made it 2-0 from a simple tap in after a cross from the right flank had evaded everyone to land at his feet.
Turkmenistan defended for most part of the match courtesy India’s attacking prowess, but could have taken the lead twice had they been confident enough. The Indian defence was caught napping as a powerful shot in the 58th minute crossed the stretched hands of Indian goalie Dheeraj, only to rattle the bar. A similar thing occurred in the 72nd minute when Anwar Ali lost his man, but Dheeraj pulled out a wonderful save to keep the scoreboard nil.
Down by two goals, Turkmenistan attacked in numbers in the dying embers of the match but could not beat the resolute Indian defence. A counter from a such an attack saw Edmund put the final nail in the coffin, two minutes into the extra time, to make it 3-0.
Celebrations started off at the final whistle as India won their first match in the tournament following a hard fought draw against Yemen.