India beat Nepal; enter final

In a gripping encounter, India Under-16 colts pipped Nepal 4-2 on penalties to book their place in the final of the SAFF Under-16 Championship.

Indian U-16 football team

India will now take on Pakistan in the finals to be played on August 10, 2011. Earlier, Pakistan defeated Bangladesh 2-0 in the first semi-final.

In the second semi-final played at the Dashrath Stadium in Kathmandu, both the teams were locked at 1-1 after regulation time. It was the home side who drew first blood of the match in the 20th minute with Rishi Thapa scoring off a goal mouth melee. Substitute Nitin Jyal restored parity on the stroke of the final whistle to bring India back into the match.

Both teams started the match on the aggressive note. India were up to the task right from the outset and took the control of the match. Striker Vanlalduatsanga shot was saved off the line by the rival goalkeeper while few minutes later his shot from inside the box could only find the goal-keeper.

Against run of play, Nepal took the lead in the 20thminute through Rishi Thapa. Indians didn’t crumble under pressure and kept on creating chances. Daniel could have scored the equaliser in the 22ndminute, but his right footer was just wide of the woodwork.

Nepal went for the breather with a 1-0 precarious lead and too had their chances in the second half. Nepal captain Heman Gurung free-kick from outside the box hit the woodwork, while on the other side Vanlalduatsanga, Raja Rawat and Suman Saha missed a sitter each.

Substitute Nitin Jyal, who came in for Germanpreet scored the equaliser in the dying minutes of the match.
Indian U-16 colts kept their cool and converted four out of five spot-kicks while Nepal could only manage two.

Vanlalduatsanga , Suman Saha, Myron Mendes and Harmanjot Singh scored for India, while Lalrammuana hit the crossbar. Also, Supratim Bhattacharya was the star of the show as he not only pulled off to great saves during the match, but also saved two penalties on the trot.

Satisfied India Under-16 coach, Thomas Joseph was once again all praise for his boys and said, "I am extremely happy with their performance. They played their heart out and showed character. Also we missed so many chances, but nevertheless it’s a part and parcel of the game and we hope to continue the same momentum against Pakistan in the finals.’’

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