India U-17 footballer Thoiba Singh Moirangthem became the youngest player to score a goal in the AFC Cup on May 15th, when he netted for Minerva Punjab FC against Nepalese club Manang Marshyangdi in the 39th minute of the Group E game.
The match was held at Nepal’s capital city Kathmandu on Wednesday, and Thoiba (born 12th December 2002) was 16 years and 154 days old when he scored his goal for Minerva. However, the goal was not enough to earn a much-needed win for the I-League side, who stand third in the charts thanks to the draw against their Nepalese opponents.
Minerva Punjab have four points from four matches now, and their playoffs chances look extremely slim at the moment.
Speaking of the game, Minerva took the lead through Thoiba in only their third chance in the first half, in the 39th minute. However, his teammate Prateek Joshi was sent off just before half-time, and the Indian side was hence forced to play the entire second half with just ten-men.
Eventually, Manang Marshyangdi equalized the scoreline via Saheed Azeez their defender, just a few minutes after Minerva were denied a clear penalty and a goal ruled out for off-side.
Speaking after the game, Minerva Punjab owner Ranjit Bajaj heaped praise on young Thoiba.
“He’s just 15 or 16 and has come back from one of those AIFF age group tournaments. Today he played as a central defender but in the last match against Arrows, we played him in different positions – defender, winger and as an attacking midfielder,” he said, while also bringing attention to the youngster’s versatility.
Minerva’s next AFC Cup games are against Indian side Chennaiyin FC, and Bangladesh-based Abahani FC.