Dasharth Stadium, Nepal
Kick off- 3:45PM IST
Almost a month before the senior team take the field in Nepal with a plan to clinch their seventh SAFF Cup, the young colts are already setting the standards for the senior lads to follow. The Indian U-16 team has stormed their way into the second SAFF Under 16 championships after they got the better of a talented Afghan side on penalties. The young blue cubs will lock horns with hosts Nepal in the final now at the jam packed Dashrath Stadium, Kathmandu.
Nepal is once again hosting the U-16 SAFF Cup after the inaugural edition was won by Pakistan in 2011. The team has been under on a winning binge in this tournament under the mentor-ship of coach Bal Gopal Maharjan, topping the Group A without a glitch apart from a draw against Afghanistan. Nepal annihilated the Bangladesh team in the semi-final scoring five times against the struggling neighbors with midfielder Sujan Limbu bagging a brace. The young Reds haven’t lost in their last five games.
Having been clubbed with Bhutan, Pakistan and Afghanistan in the group A, Nepal signalled their intent right from the first game when they thumped a hapless Bhutan side 7-1 courtesy hat-tricks from Bimal Gharti Magar and Hemant Thapa Magar. Nepal were held to a 1-1 draw by Afghanistan in the second group match before they beat Pakistan 3-1 to move into the semifinals with Bimal Gharti Magar bagging a brace.
Nepal has been deploying a traditional 4-4-2 during defence which quickly transforms into a 4-3-3 when they attack using their overlapping full-backs. The junior Ghorkhalis have been in sensational form since their gritty draw against the mighty Saudi Arabians just before the tournament kicked off. After that it has been raining goals for the men in red as they boast about scoring a mammoth sixteen goals so far and conceding only two. Striker Bimal Gharti Magar has been the top scorer in the tournament so far slotting the ball into the net six times so far. Captain of the side, Hemant Thapa Magar is not far behind as the play maker has four goals in his kitty. Adding to that midfielder Sujan Limbu has also been in cracking form and his quick feet could turn out to be decisive against Indian back line in front of a huge crowd.
Roman Rasaili (GK), Abhilash Thapa (GK), Bimal Gharti Magar, Hemant Thapa Magar [C], Shiva Subedi, Prabin ShresthaAmit Tamang,Tshring Gurung,Ananta Tamang,Aakash Thapa,Dinesh Rajbanshi,Gaurab Budathoki,Kiran Sunar, Rupesh Tamang, Sajan Magar, Sanjok Rai, Lalit Thapa, Nishant Dhungana, Ravi Bhandari, Anil Rai, Anjan Bista, Bikash Thapa, Sujan Limbu
The U-15 boys from the AIFF regional academy comprise the National team which gears up to face the Nepali challenge tomorrow in Kathmandu. Coach Goutam Ghosh is pretty confident that the youngsters will clinch the title on Tuesday and take revenge of last year’s loss at the same stage against Pakistan.
The Indian team has been in supreme form and more importantly have kept their nerves under pressure. The team advanced into their consecutive final of the U-16 SAFF Cup after getting the better of a talented Afghanistan side after a penalty shootout, courtesy outstanding performance by the goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh under the bar. Like their hosts, India finished at the summit of the group B table, comfortably beating Sri Lanka and Bangladesh on the way.
Captain Prosenjit Chakraborty has been in red hot form along with the strikers Bedashwor Singh and Krishna Pandit. All three of them have mustered seven goals combined so far, with Bedashwor leading the pack hitting the back of the net four times. The hero form last match custodian Dheeraj is expected to start this match under the bars once again with Jayananda Singh and Amey on the defensive flanks. Jerry Lalrinzuala wil be deployed alongside Tudu to marshal the defence. Surya Tirkey will play the anchor role in the middle of the park alongside the more aggressive Prosenjit. It will be interesting to notice whether coach Gosh deploys 4-4-2 for the final match, keeping the slick Nepali counterparts into consideration.
Dheeraj Singh(GK), M Jayananda Singh, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Prosenjit Chakraborty [C], Amit Tudu, Amey Ranawade; Kyntiew Kharlukhi, Bodo Baoringdao, Surya Tirkey, Deependra Singh Negi, Bedashwor Singh, Krishna Pandit, Anuj Kumar, Subrata Das, T Kishan Singh, Nuruddin, Zonunmawia, Anirudh Thapa, Aaron Rodrigues, Chanmitre Thma, Sourav Chakraborty, Edmund Lalrindika, Mohammed Hasil.
Without a doubt, both the finalists deserve to be in the final and the team which manages to keep their nerve, doesn’t get overhauled by the atmosphere, stands a better chance to clinch their maiden SAFF Cup title tomorrow. The Indian side faced some difficulty in piercing a good Afghani defence and could be bought under pressure with 15000 people watching on. Similarly, the Gorkhali boys would be expected to do well and keep the unbeaten record going. However, India would be raring to go after their insipid goal less draw against Afghanistan and could rally to clinch the tie and the trophy.
Nepal 1 -2 India
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