2018 AFC U19 Championship qualifier: Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem gets first clean sheet in India colours
What’s the story?
India’s 2017 FIFA U17 World Cup star Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem had impressed a lot during the mega event on his home soil. The teenaged goalkeeper has impressed yet again, with his shot stopping skills, and earned his first ever clean sheet in an India shirt, in an official international match.
In case you didn’t know…
India hosted the FIFA U17 World Cup last month, which was also the biggest football tournament that the country has hosted so far. This was also the first time that India were participating in a World Cup, across any age group.
Although India lost all of their matches in the U17 World Cup, Dheeraj had come out as one of the shining stars for India, making brilliant saves under the bar. Such were his performances, that he had even attracted the attention of a number of scouts from top European clubs like Manchester City, Freiburg, and Galatasaray.
Heart of the matter
After the FIFA U17 World Cup, Dheeraj was straightaway promoted from the India U17 side to the U19 team, which set off on their 2018 AFC U19 Championship qualification on Saturday. However, they got off to a horrendous start to the campaign, as they suffered a heavy 5-0 loss at the hands of hosts Saudi Arabia.
Despite this loss, Dheeraj showed great character to churn out yet another brilliant performance under the bar, in the second match against Yemen, on Monday. He made save after save, and this time, came out of the match with something to show for all his efforts – a clean sheet. This was, in fact, his first ever clean sheet in an official international match, in India colours. This fact has been confirmed by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to Sportskeeda.
Despite this draw, however, India are still languishing at the third spot in Group D of the qualifiers. Only a second-placed finish will give them a chance of qualifying for the main event.
Dheeraj has grown exponentially in stature over the last year or so, and seems to be turning into one of India’s brightest prospects in the beautiful game. Not only has he looked calm under the bar in pressure situations, but he has also come up with brilliant reflex saves, when the situation has demanded him to do so. Will he go on to challenge the mighty Gurpreet Singh Sandhu for the no 1 shirt in the senior Indian football team, in a few year’s time? Only time can tell.