India stay calm to regain title

India stay calm to regain title

Sukhwinders boys edge Maldives 3-1

India stay calm to regain title

After the match failed to produce any goal in the regulation and extra time, the match was decided in the penalty shoot out.
For India, who fielded an under-23 side, Jibbon Singh, Denzil Franco and Subodh Kumar scored while Nirmal Chhetri missed the target.

Only Fazeel Ibrahim found the target for Maldives while Ahmed Thoriq, Makhuthar Naseer and star striker Ali Ashfaq failed to score.
India, who pocketed $50,000, had earlier won the title of the regional tournament in 1993, 1997, 1999 and 2005.

It was a fine show by the Indians, under Sukhwinder Singh, who were facing the flak for their lacklustre show in the group matches, including a 0-2 loss to the same opponents. The Indian boys would also be proud of themselves as they did something which their full strength national senior side under captain Baichung Bhutia failed to do last year when Maldives beat them 1-0 in the final.

The match, which saw three Indian players — Baldeep Singh, Balwant Singh and Jewel Raja — bleeding after colliding with rival players, did not rise to any great heights except at the closing stages and extra time.
Indian midfielder Jewel Raja had to be taken to hospital after he collided with Mohammed Arif going for a header in the 62nd minute. Both the midfielders fell down on the ground but the Indian hit the ground with the back of his head and there was commotion among the Indian players for a while.

Jewel was taken to the hospital in an ambulance after the doctors gave him first aid on the field. Jewel’s condition seemed serious as captain Sushil Singh and even other Indian players were seen rushing to the ambulance.
The first 15 minutes of extra time was dominated by Maldives and five minutes into it Ashfaq missed a chance as his shot from close range missed the target. Five minutes later Ahmed Thoriq got another chance but also wasted it.

In the 17th minute, however, it was India’s turn to close in on scoring but Sushil’s outstretched legs failed to connect a low pass from Jibbon Singh.
Five minutes later, it was Sushil again who failed to pounce on a chance as he could not reach the ball which bounced off the Maldives goalkeeper off a cross from the left by Jibbon Singh.

Next minute, Ashfaq wasted a golden chance as he shot over from a handshaking distance from the Indian goal.
There was nothing to choose between the two teams in the first half which did not see many scoring chances.

Maldives star striker Ashfaq Ali could not do much with the Indian backline of Denzil Franco, Robert Lalthama, Rawlinson Rodrigues and D Ravanan doing well to check him.
Maldives, building attacks mostly in short passes, had the first shot at the Indian goal in the ninth minute but striker Ahmed Thoriq’s left footer after tussle inside the Indian box missed the target narrowly.

India got their first shot at the Maldives goal and midfielder Jewel’s running left-footer sailed over the bar. Ashfaq sent Thoriq in the free in the 21st minute but an alert Indian goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya came out of line to intercept the ball.
Maldives dominated the early part of second session but it was India who got a chance in the 55th minute but Balwant’s Singh’s header missed the far post.
Sushil got the best chance of the match in the 78th but his header off a pin-point cross from the right missed the post by inches after beating the Maldives goalkeeper.
The last 10 minutes of the regulation time saw Maldives making several attacks at the Indian goal and goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya had to make a couple of last-ditch saves to keep the slate clean.

Arindam made a fine save in the 85th minute by diving to his right to push out a Mohammed Arif grounder for a corner.