India put up a brave fight but that was not enough as they went down fighting 0-3 to the USA in their opening match of the U-17 World Cup match at Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Delhi on Friday. Backed by vociferous crowd of 46500 and watched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for some time, the Amarjit Kiyam led side put up a creditable show and though they lost, they were not disgraced. For the Americans Josh Sargent (30th) Chris Durkin (51) and Andrew Carleton(84) were the goal scorers.
It was tough for Indians but they made Americans fight hard for the victory. The visitors controlled the game for most of the time and for first 25 minutes virtually dictated the proceedings but the hosts never gave up and survived the onslaught.
The fact that Indians have a long way to go on this level of competition was underlined by the Americans who however failed to convert all the chances that came their way. Indians fought back in patches. They came into the game after conceding a penalty and then hit back after they were 0-2 down. They played well but that was not enough to stop their marauding rivals.
The American opened the match with an attack but goal keeper Dheeraj was alert to ward off the danger. Two more attacks followed in quick succession but mid fielder Andrew Carletan and then captain Josh Sargent failed to put it across the Indian custodian.
The American exposed the Indian right flank as they kept attacking the hosts citadel from this side without facing any resistance. Next fifteen minutes it was the Americans who ruled the midfield with nine Indians falling behind to defend their goal.
Up front Aniket Jadhav moved around without aimlessly as he hardly got any ball and then fell and moved to flanks.
Indians were troubled time again by the tall and fast Americans with Tim Weah, Josh Sargent and Andrew Carleton tormenting the rival defenders.
However soon Anwar Ali and defender Jitendra Singh effectively marked Josh to slow down his movement for some time. But the visitors were far superior and hosts found it increasingly difficult to contain them.
It was only in the 26th minute that Indians made their first attack and tested the rival defence and Aniket Jadhav run down the left flank was halted by a defender resulting in the first corner kick for the hosts. However Sanjeev Stalin kick was effortlessly cleared by the USA defenders.
Despite their overwhelming superiority the American took the lead through a “controversial” penalty. A counter attack from the left saw defender Jitender Singh rushing to clear the ball and in that he tried to block Josh but his feeble tackle was judged dangerous by Bolivian referee Gary Vargas who whistled for penalty which was converted by Josh Sergant himself (1-0).
After taking the lead the Americans increased the pressure but could not breach the Indian defence. On the other hand the hosts suddenly got into aggressive mode and N Meetei and Komal Thatal made some good efforts from the right flank which surprised the Americans. In the 40th minute Komal Thatal created a move for Jadhav but goal keeper Justin Garces folied that effort.
There was no let up in American pressure as the second session commenced and they consolidated their lead in the 51 minute when Chris Durkin latched to a loose ball moved up and his shot was deflected off defender Anwar Ali into the goal leaving Dheeraj Singh in despair (2-0).
Three minutes later India got their first real chance to score as Suresh lofted the ball towards unmarked Komal who failed to handle the ball and shot out.
In the 70th minute coach Matos brought in Rahim Ali in place of Abhijit Sarkar and shifted to 4-4-2 style and these changes made some difference as Indians stepped up the attack.
Rahim ali and Komal created an opening in the end in the 83 minute India almost scored their first goal but Anwar Ali’s attempt off Komal’s corner hit the bar. Rahim Ali then set up Komal but Garces is quickly off his lines to foil that attack. The American counter followed and that caught the Indians off guard and Andrew Carleton makes no mistake in dogging past onrushing Dheeraj to send the ball into the goal to make it 3-0 lead and that ended Indian resistance.