India juniors entered the semifinals of the SAFF Cup in Dhaka on Monday riding an early self-goal from Nepal at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.
India have six points from two matches and top group B which also has Afghanistan and defending champions the Maldives. India will miss Dempo midfielder Joaquim Abranches in the last group league tie because of a double booking.
Skipper Sushil Singh earned a free-kick and Robert Lalthlamuana’s powerful drive was fisted by Nepal goalie Bikash Malla. Under pressure from Jibon Singh and Sushil, a Nepal defender tried a headed clearance but the ball bounced back into play off the horizontal. Malla slapped the ball into his net while trying to fend off Sushil and Jibon.
“For this junior team which came into this tournament without match practice, getting into the semifinals with a match to spare is no small thing. True, they (Nepal) had more
possession but both teams had the same number of chances,” India coach Sukhwinder Singh told HT from Dhaka.
The coach said midfielder Jagpreet Singh is out if the tournament with an ankle injury and Manish Mahtani too is doubtful after an ankle injury late in Monday’s match, he said.