U-16 SAFF Championships: India lose to Bangladesh in the final group game
Rahim Ali equalised for India, but an Atikuzzaman penalty earned Bangladesh the 3 points
The Indian U-16's fought till the end but came up short against an excellent Bangladesh side in the final group game of the U-16 SAFF Championship. Atikuzzaman scored the winning goal from the penalty spot in the 85th minute to hand the young Tigers the win.
India needed a draw to top the group while Bangladesh needed a win to draw the second-placed team from the other group in the semi-finals. Both teams started the game well by keeping the ball and switching the play.
To say the game was physical would be an understatement, but most of the tackles were clean and the referee was more than happy to let the game flow. Bangladesh were looking like the more dangerous side with most of their attacks coming from the left-hand side.
In the 31st minute, Bangladesh got the goal that they had been threatening for 10 minutes in the lead-up. After some confusion in the Indian backline, the ball fell kindly to Shawon. The midfielder made no mistakes as he blasted the ball past the hapless Indian goalkeeper.
The same player picked up a card six minutes later for a nasty challenge on his Indian counterpart when the latter looked to have clear space in front of him.
Things could have been worse for the Indian youngsters had Shawon not skied a cut back from Sad-ud-din in the 41st minute. It was one-way traffic for the remainder of the half and the Indian colts would have been pleased to hear the half-time whistle.
India get an equalizer straight after the break
Following the restart, the Bangladesh midfield released Nipu on goal but the striker was not able to keep his shot on target. Nipu would have been thinking about the miss when Rahim Ali was put through on goal with a chipped through ball. The Bangladeshi keeper was slow to react and Ali the lobbed the ball over him to equalize.
In the 63rd minute, Nipu found himself one-on-one with the Indian shot stopper but the defender made an excellent recovery tackle to deny the forward his third goal of the tournament.
The game seemed to be heading for a draw, but Bangladesh were awarded a penalty in the 83rd minute for a clumsy tackle inside the box. Atikuzzaman sent the keeper the wrong way and handed Bangladesh a well-deserved lead. India had a chance in the 91st minute to equalize when Singh received the ball in the 18-yard-box, but for once the youngsters first touch let him down.
India have already qualified for the semi-finals and will now play the winner of Nepal vs Afghanistan on the 16th of August.