India U-19 thrash Maldives 3-0 to qualify for the semi finals of the SAFF Championships
The Indian team will now play Bangladesh in the semi-finals
The Indian colts put up a dominant display against Maldives winning 3-0 and progressing to the semi-finals of the U-19 SAFF Championships. Moinuddin, Daniel and Thapa scored the goals for the Indians.
India made two changes to the team that beat Afghanistan 2-0 in the opening match of the tournament bringing on Japes and Singh to replace Tudu and Prashant. India starting the first half on the front foot and created the first opportunity in the second minute of the match when Lalramzauva struck a free kick from almost 30 yards, but the Maldives goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant save to keep the scores level.
India kept piling the pressure and were denied a penalty when captain Daniel was brought down five yards from goal. Maldives came close in the 10th minute when a corner came off the near post, but Barai had the goal covered. India created a chance of their own in the next minute when Moinuddin found himself free in the penalty area but was not able to direct his header goalwards.
Lalramzauva again tested the goalkeeper from a free kick but the latter was up to the challenge again deflecting the shot onto the crossbar. India kept the pressurising the Maldives and it paid off in the 41st minute when Moinuddin latched on to a loose ball by the Maldives on the right wing.
Th forward ran straight for goal, beating a defender a finishing with the utmost confidence. Maldives had the chance to level the scores right before the half when Kamalpreet conceded a debatable penalty, but Hassan Ibrahim was not able to convert the resulting penalty. Maldives would have been glad to hear the half-time whistle to bring an end to a disastrous half for them.
Lalramzauva doubled India’s lead within two minutes of the restart
India began the second half from where they had left off in the first half scoring in the opening two minutes of the half. Daniel received the ball from Jerry from a throw-in, went passed a player and passed the ball into the path of Lalramzauva, who placed the ball into the far corner using his first touch.
Maldives, however, were no ready to give up the fight with Ibrahim testing Barai at his near post, only to find the keeper upto the task. On the other India continued to create chances with Daniel getting on the end of Jerry cross only to miss the ball all together from just five yards out.
Shahbaz though he had scored when he blasted the ball into the net, only for the goal to be correctly disallowed for a foul on the goalkeeper. Indian coach Sabir Pasha made a change in the 68th minute bringing on Prashant to replace Japes.
The substitution paid off in the 71st minute when Prashant squared the ball to the top of the box for Thapa to hit an unstoppable first-time shot into the top corner. The Indian colts looked the fitter of the two teams as various players from Maldives kept going down because of cramps.
India continued to push for further goals with first Daniel and then Gouli going close but were unable to add to the scoreline.
India will now face Bangladesh in the semi-final of the competition on the 27th of August.