AFC U-16 Championship 2018: India 0-1 South Korea - Defensive mindset the main cause of defeat?
The Indian Colts took on the high flying South Korea in the quarter-final clash of the AFC U-16 Football Championship. A win in this game would assure the Indian team a spot at the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2019 to be held in Peru. However, Vikram Partap Singh and Co. suffered a narrow 0-1 defeat at the hands of the Koreans.
India entered this clash as the underdogs considering the fact that the Koreans had been named as the team 'most likely' to be crowned as the Asian Champions. South Korea headed into this draw with a series of successive wins against Iraq, Afghanistan and Australia. They had netted a total of 12 goals in all matches without conceding a single goal. On the other hand, the Indian boys had just scored 1 goal in their 3 matches.
The boys in blue had to worry about a strong South Korean attack but were they too defensive in their approach to the game? Did their defensive approach cost them the match?
In the pre-match press conference, head coach Bibiano Fernandes said that a solid defence is the foundation of a football team. But does that mean that the team has to take the backseat throughout the game?
The Indian team looked like they were told to play for a draw rather than a win. The team did not show any attacking intent since the start of the game. It was only when India began trailing Korea by a goal did we see the players showing some attacking intent.
The Indian boys were seen playing some wasteful passes and putting in some pointless tackles throughout the game. South Korea dominated the proceedings right from the start to the end. It was only some brilliant goalkeeping by Niraj Kumar that saved India from losing by a bigger goal margin.
Even in the build-up to the quarter-final, the Indian team had goalless draws against Iran and Indonesia. The only goal India had scored in this tournament was in the form of a penalty when they beat Vietnam 1-0.
We must appreciate the effort of the entire Indian defensive unit for holding fort for 3 games and most part of the quarterfinals but in big competitions like these only defending cannot win you titles. Scoring goals is equally important and that is something the Indian boys lacked. They failed to convert their chances into goals.
We hope that the young lads as well as the technical team take this campaign as a learning experience and get better with time. Indian Football still has a long journey to traverse and this loss must be taken as an opportunity to better themselves. It is only when India improve the quality of their football will they be able to live the World Cup dream.