India begin U-19 with victory

Lalitpur, August 23

India started their SAFF U-19 Championship campaign with a 2-0 victory over Afghanistan here at the ANFA Complex today.

Kamalpreet Singh Grewal and Anirudh Thapa scored a goal each for India in either half of the match. Following the victory, India lead the Group B standing ahead of Afghanistan, who defeated Maldives 3-1 in their opening match of the championship on Saturday. Both teams are tied on three points, and the match between India and Maldives will decide the two teams in the semi-finals.

India took lead through Singh in the 11th minute following a free kick from Lalramzauva Khingte. Thapa put the issue beyond doubt with a goal in the in the 85th minute when he beat Afghanistan goalkeeper Ohammad Nawid in one-on-one situation. Afghanisthan were reduced to 10 men in the injury time after custodian Nawid was sent off for second bookable offense.

India coach Syed Sabir Pasa said it was a tough match against physically strong Afghanistan players. “This was our first match on Astro-turf and I hope the boys will perform better in the next game,” Pasa said. “The early goal built the confidence of the players and that led us to victory,” he added. Afghanistan coach Hayatullah Lgarwal said boys played well in the first half but failed to maintain the tempo in the latter half.

On Monday, Nepal will take on Bangladesh in Group A match which will decide the pool winners. Both the teams have already made it to the semi-finals at the expense of Bhutan.