Despite Jeakson Thounaojam’s leaping equalizer in the 81st minute, which marked India’s first goal in the U-17 World Cup, the ecstasy turned into nightmare almost immediately as Colombia’s Juan Penaloza got his second of the night a minute later. The 2-1 loss puts India on the brink of early exit.
India’s poor form in the U-17 World Cup continued on Sunday at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium as they succumbed to a disheartening 2-1 loss to Colombia in their Group A contest. It also marked India’s historic first goal of the tournament.
After some early pressure in the game by India, Colombia started working their trade gradually as they had to make quick tactical changes. India coach Luis Norton de Matos had fielded a different starting 11 this time, one that looked physically capable.
US-born centre-back Namit Deshpande replaced Jitendra Singh at the back after the later had a bad game against the USA. Rahul KP was fielded on the left flank this time in place of the injured Komal Thatal, while Boris Thangjam returned to the team as the right-back. Jeakson Thounaojam, who was a surprise omission from the last game, returned to the side.
The attacking side looked well gelled as Rahul and Boris worked tirelessly on the flanks, synchronizing well with Jeakson and Amarjit up front. However, they lacked quality in finishing as they squandered many chances, which was finally punished Colombia’s Juan Penaloza who sent in a beautiful left-footed curler in the 49 minute to lead 1-0.
The goal surely stirred things up in the Indian camp and their persistence in the second-half bore fruits when Thounaojam jumped taller than two defenders to squeeze in a bullet header from Sanjeev Stalin’s corner in the 81 minute. It was ecstasy all-round the ground and the atmosphere did the big damage for the young hosts. Colombia got their second instantly and Indians were still celebrating.
Juan Penaloza took advantage of central defender Anwar Ali’s disposition and calmly controlled a through ball finishing it past Dheeraj Singh, the goalie. The best justification, probably, was given by coach De Matos. “Their dream just came true and they did not know how to control emotions immediately after that,” he said.
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