India lose to Bangladesh on penalties in SAFF U-15 semifinal
Defending champions India crashed out in the semifinals of the SAFF U-15 Championship after suffering a heartbreaking loss to neighbours Bangladesh on penalties on Thursday.
India took an early lead in the first half via a long-ranger from Harsh Patre but a 93rd-minute penalty from Ashkul Rahman saw the match go past regulation time. In the end, however, the Indians experienced heartbreak as Bangladesh won 4-2 on penalties.
In the first half, Bangladesh took the early initiative and launched a flurry of attacks. However, India were alert and looked to capitalise on any opportunity to hit their neighbours on the counter.
Bangladesh constantly looked to attack down the wing and sent in dangerous crosses but the Indian defence, aided by their keeper Santosh Singh, held its ground, thwarting the attacks one after the other.
India took the lead in the 17th minute against the run of play, when midfielder Patre scored a scorcher of a goal from 30 yards.
India switched the play from the left to the right flank before the ball rolled kindly towards Patre, who decided to go for it from a long distance. The shot tucked itself between the post and the crossbar to hand India an early lead, much to the delight of the youngsters.
Captain Jongte created a couple of good chances for India from set-piece situations. On one such occasion, Jongte sent in an unconventional corner towards Fredy, who was standing on the edge of the area. The latter pulled the trigger on the volley, but his shot was cleared by a Bangladeshi defender.
The finish line was very close for the Indians but Bangladesh came back late in the game as they earned a penalty in the 93rd minute. Ashkul Rahman stepped up to the spot and his shot was just out of keeper Santosh’s reach as the ball ricocheted off the upright and went into the net. The late goal sent the match into the dreaded penalty shootout.
India missed their first two penalties, which put the pressure on the colts, while Bangladesh converted all their four spot-kicks. In the end, the Blue Colts lost out 4-2 as Bangladesh moved into the final.
Coach Shuvendu Panda and his boys will now fight for bronze medal match on Saturday.