India go down to Uzbekistan in U-17 friendly

India U-17 – 0
Uzbekistan U-17 – 3 (Oybek Urmonjonov 54′, Kuvonchbek Abraev 67′, Abdulkhamid Turgunboev 76′)

NEW DELHI: The Indian U-17 National Team went down 0-3 against Uzbekistan in the second friendly at the Tilak Maidan in Vasco da Gama on Tuesday, January 24, 2023.

India ran out 2-0 victors on Sunday in the first of two friendly matches as part of the preparations for the AFC U-17 Asian Cup to be held in Thailand in the summer. However, the Blue Colts were unable to repeat their brilliant performance today, conceding three unanswered goals against a rejuvenated Uzbek side.

Indian head coach Bibiano Fernandes made a solitary change from the first match, with Balkaran Singh replacing Malemngamba Singh Thokchom at left-back. Looking to bounce back from Sunday’s defeat, Uzbekistan made four changes as Mukhtorov, Yokubov, Abraev and Urmonjonov all came in. The latter two also wrote their name on the scoresheet.

The visitors’ quick passing put India under pressure early on. A mistake from centre-back Surajkumar Singh Ngangbam allowed Uzbek captain Amirbek Saidov to shoot from point-blank range, but Indian goalkeeper Sahil made himself big and thwarted the attempt. The Blue Colts subsequently launched a counter-attack with Lalpekhlua bombing down the left flank before his intended cutback for Korou Singh Thingujam was well-intercepted by Bekhuruz Shukurullaev.

Lalpekhlua, who found the net on Sunday, was the focal point of India’s attack in the first half. Exploiting a gap in the visitors’ backline, he smartly picked out an unmarked Ricky Meetei Haobam inside the box. However, the right-back’s first-time shot was rather weak and was easily gathered by Asilbek Numonov.

The second half completely belonged to Uzbekistan as the hosts failed to find any rhythm. Jamoliddin Rakhmatullaev’s side opened the scoring nine minutes into the second half when Oybek Urmonjonov received a pass from Kuvonchbek Abraev on the edge of the box, and rifled it past Sahil with his left foot.

India were gifted a golden opportunity to equalise in the 65th minute but couldn’t make the most of it. After intercepting a poor goal-kick from Numonov just outside the box, Vanlalpeka Guite raced clean through on goal but drove it wide of the far post. That glaring miss proved costly as Uzbekistan doubled their lead two minutes later, putting the game out of India’s reach.

The protagonists of the first goal, Urmonjonov and Abraev, combined again as the former picked out the latter with a lofted ball inside the area. Abraev then took a touch before drilling a low shot past Sahil, who could’ve done better at his near post.

In the 72nd minute, midfielder Danny Meitei found space 25 yards from goal and unleashed a powerful shot which went just inches wide of the post, summing up a frustrating night for the Blue Colts. Four minutes later, Uzbek substitute Abdulkhamid Turgunboev sealed the victory for the visitors with a simple tap-in on the rebound after Sahil had made a good save to deny Saidov.

India U-17 XI: Sahil, Ricky Meetei Haobam, Surajkumar Singh Ngangbam, Balkaran Singh (Mukul Panwar 78′), Manjot Singh, Vanlalpeka Guite, Danny Meitei Laishram (Prachit Gaonkar 83′), Korou Singh Thingujam, Thanglalsoun Gangte (Shashwat Panwar 61′), Lalpekhlua (Phoenix Oinam 78′), Ashish (Gurnaj Singh Grewal 61′).

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