India’s U-16 football team delivered an impressive performance, securing the top position in Group A of the SAFF U-16 Championship. Their hard-fought victory against Nepal on Wednesday, September 6, 2023, at the Changlimithang Stadium in Thimphu, Bhutan, earned them a place in the semi-finals.
|Md Arbash (31′)
A Dominant Display by India
India, needing only a draw to secure the top spot in Group A, started the match cautiously. While Nepal had slightly longer spells of possession, the Indian team looked to penetrate, primarily through Vishal Yadav on the right wing.
“Nepal captain, Subash Bam was a constant menace down the left, and Usham Singh had to put in a double shift to keep him in check.”
Usham Singh, who scored in the previous match against Bangladesh, had a golden opportunity within the first 15 minutes when he received a cross from the right inside the Nepal penalty box. Unfortunately, his effort hit the woodwork.
Breakthrough for India
India finally broke the deadlock just three minutes after the half-hour mark. Vishal Yadav made a decisive run from the right and delivered a cut-back to Md Arbash, who confidently slotted the ball into the near post.
As halftime approached, the Indian team had a nervous moment when Nepal’s first-half substitute, Himesh Majhi, intercepted a defensive pass by Mohammed Kaif near the Indian box. Fortunately, Mate Ngamgouhou intervened to clear the danger.
After the halftime break, Mate Ngamgouhou continued to be in the thick of things, venturing down the left to deliver a ball into the Nepal box. However, his effort was halted by a foul, resulting in a free-kick that sailed over the crossbar.
India came close to doubling their lead when Bharat Lairenjam’s free-kick from the left was headed onto the crossbar by Arbash. Moments later, Vishal Yadav dribbled into the Nepal box but was brought down by a heavy challenge. The referee’s decision to award a goal kick rather than a penalty caused confusion among the Indian players.
In the closing stages of the game, both teams engaged in an end-to-end battle. Substitute Bobby Singh, who entered the match in the last 10 minutes, added a dynamic dimension to India’s attack, causing problems for the Nepal defenders.
With just eight minutes of regulation time left, Bobby initiated a short corner on the right and passed it to Rishi Singh, whose shot rattled the crossbar. Manbhakupar Malngiang attempted to capitalize on the rebound, but his effort was blocked.
In the 86th minute, Rishi Singh came close to extending India’s lead with a powerful shot from outside the box that struck the crossbar. Minutes later, Mate Ngamgouhou cleverly maneuvered past his marker and provided a through ball to Malngiang, who aimed for the bottom corner, but Nepal’s goalkeeper, Pemba Bhote, rushed out to clear the danger.
In added time, Nepal’s captain had two prime opportunities to level the scores, but Yaipharemba Chingkham made crucial blocks to maintain India’s lead. The final whistle confirmed India’s second victory of the competition and secured their position as the top team in Group A.