The Indian team ended their campaign at the AFC U-19 Championship Qualifiers football tournament with a 3-0 win over Turkmenistan in the last match of Group D at the Prince Mohammad bin Fahad Stadium here on Wednesday. Skipper Amarjit Singh’s 74th minute strike, Abhishek Halder’s 80th minute tap-in from inside the box and Edmund’s late 92nd minute goal proved to be the difference between the two sides in a match largely dominated by the Indian colts. It was all India in the first half of the match as the young colts, all fired up, dominated possession in the final third and created goal scoring chances at will. As early as the second minute, Nongdamba Naorem had waltzed into the opposition box, only for him to lose possession in a jungle of Turkmenistan legs.
In the 13th minute, Rahim Ali’s rasping shot from inside the box was easily saved by the Turkmenistan custodian, after the Turkmenistan defence line took the sting out of it, as India continued to press for an early lead. Seven minutes later, Ali was at it again, however this time as well his shot was saved by the opposition custodian. With India continuing to dominate proceedings, the defence line mopped up Turkmenistan’s counter-attacks, providing freedom to the Indian midfield to go forward. In the 26th minute, Amarjit set up Nongdamba Naorem, but Naorem’s shot from outside the box went inches wide of the goal. Turkmenistan rarely threatened the Indian citadel, but when they did through set-piece scenarios the Indian defence dealt with it easily. However with nothing to show for their domination in the first half, both teams went into the tunnel on level pegging as the scoreline read 0-0.
The domination seemed to continue in the second half as well, when in the 51st minute Boris Singh perhaps had the best chance to put India ahead. After playing a one-two with Abhishek Halder, Boris was clear onto goal but could only shoot wide of the framework. In the 58th minute however, the Indian defence was caught napping and Turkmenistan almost took the lead had the shot not rattled the crossbar. Two minutes later on the other end of play, Anwar Ali’s thumping header off a Sanjeev Stalin corner went inches over the crossbar. Dheeraj was called into action in the 72nd minute and the custodian proved his mettle as he kept Turkmenistan from scoring after Anwar Ali had lost his marking player. In the 74th minute, India took the lead after Amarjit Singh blasted the ball home to make the scoreline read 1-0.
In the 80th minute, Abhishek Halder doubled India’s lead after he tapped the ball into an empty net following an accurate cross from the right flank. The Indian colts held off stern Turkmenistan attacks in the dying moments of the match, creating goal scoring chances in counter-attacks with Edmund’s 92nd minute strike finally paying off to complete the rout.