India lose 5-4 on penalties (1-1 after 90 minutes) to Nepal in U-19 SAFF Championships final
Hosts Nepal were crowned the U-19 SAFF Champions after their 5-4 penalty shootout win against India after the match had ended 1-1 after 90 minutes. Tamang and Shahbaaz were the respective scorers for Nepal and India during regulation time.
India made two changes to the team that beat Bangladesh on penalties, bringing in Kyntiewshaphrang and Bedashwar to replace Moinuddin and Japes for the final. In the early exchanges of the game, both teams were denying space to the opponents by keeping the pressure on the ball throughout.
It was Nepal who created the first chance of the when Gursimrat missed his clearance after being put under the pressure by Bimal, who tried his luck from a very tight angle and his shot was just inches wide of the target. Nepal kept the pressure on their Indian counterparts and when Bhishwas crossed a low and hard ball into the box, it looked like Chishta would open the scoring but Jerry put in a brilliant tackle to keep the scores level.
India created an opportunity through their captain Daniel. The midfielder hit a shot from outside the box, but Gurung was ready for the challenge and put the ball out for a corner. India’s Thapa and Nepal’s Bal went close with speculative shots soon after that, but they were not good enough to trouble the keeper.
Bistha tried his luck with a great shot from 35 yards and it was just the brilliance of Barai that kept out the stinging shot. From the resulting corner, Tamang found himself free in the box and head the ball goalwards. Barai pulled off another save, but Tamang was alert and poked the ball into the open net.
India kept a lot of the ball, but it was Nepal who had the best chance again with the shot going inches wide of the post. As the teams headed into the break, it was evident that India needed a change in personnel to change their fortunes in the match.
India made changes early in the second half
Indian coach Pasha changed his team for the second half bringing on Moinuddin and Japes. In the first five minutes of the half, Daniel created a chance for himself but his shot was well saved by Gurung.
As India pressed for the equalizer, Nepal created two glorious chances on the counter but couldn’t score as Barai pulled off two truly world class saves, first denying Bimal and then Bal to keep India in the game. The away team kept pushing for the equalizer, winning corner after corner, but a goal remained elusive.
The best chance of the game for the Indian colts fell to Daniel, who could not get a telling touch on a Lalramzuava freekick. Players tried their luck from distance, but the keeper was hardly troubled.
Nepal seemed to be headed for an easy victory when India were awarded a penalty in the dying embers of the match as the ball was handled in the penalty box by T. Gurung. Shahbaaz stepped up to take the resulting penalty and coolly scored the equalizer to hand India a late lifeline.
With the game ending at 1-1, the match went to a penalty shootout. Moinuddin stepped up to take the first penalty but was but his shot was brilliantly saved by Gurung. Everyone else converted their penalties as India succumbed to a second final loss in two weeks. India had lost to Bangladesh in the U-16 Championships final, on penalties again, on the 18th of August.