A first half goal, a red card and two penalties marked India’s 0-3 loss to Iran in the AFC under-16 football championship in Margao on Wednesday, the result confirming the hosts exit from the tournament.
Having recorded just a point from the previous group matches, with a loss to UAE followed by a draw with Saudi Arabia, India needed a win to stay afloat. A 23rd minute goal by Iran’s Mohammad Ghaderi, however, dimmed hopes.
Things took a turn for worse in the 55th minute, with India’s Boris Thangjam showing his immaturity by falling into an Iran player after the latter had beat him with his close control. The foul earned him the second yellow of the game, leaving India a player short.
Iran expectedly upped their ante, consistently testing India’s defence. India received a further jolt when referee Yaqoob Said Abdullah Abdul Baqi pointed to a penalty in the 81st minute, though decision appeared harsh as the Iranian forward appeared to have lost control to fall,or simulated it, rather than being brought down by India defender inside the box. Iran’s designated penalty taker Mohammad Sharifi, though did not complain, beating India goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh with his power.
Coach Nicolai Adam’s boys, who will play in the Under-17 World Cup in India next year, marked their exit with another mistake, this time an inexcusable foul as India defence scrambled to clear the ball from inside the box. Iran’s Sharifi was once again clinical from the spot.
With the result, Iran and UAE, with seven points each, advanced to the quarterfinals from Group A. Japan, Uzbekistan and North Korea had also confirmed their place in the round.
India and Saudi Arabia finished the competition with a point each.