U-17 WC: India lose to US in campaign opener


AGENCIES NEW DELHI, 6th Oct: India's campaign at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup got off to a poor start as they suffered a 0-3 defeat to the United States in a Group A match here on Friday.

Josh Sargent (30th minute) put the US in the lead by converting a penalty in the first half. Chris Durkin (51st) and Andrew Carleton (84th) rounded off the tally after the break.

The Indians gave a good account of themselves in the first half although the visitors dominated from start to finish and should have scored within the first 10 minutes. India's star winger Komal Thatal was superb down the left, repeatedly troubling the American defenders with his dribbling skills.

India's other winger Ninthoiganba Meetei also played well with his speedy runs down the right. Abhijit Sarkar also did well in the midfield. Indian goalkeeper Dheeraj Moirangthem was in superb form, coming up with several superb saves to reduce the margin of defeat.

The hosts played a defensive, counter-attacking style with Aniket Jadhav as the lone striker. The Indian boys however, suffered from a lack of co-ordination in the final third which resulted in a lot of mispasses and made the job easier for the US defenders.

The Indian defence came under pressure right at the start when India goalkeeper Dheeraj Moirangthem produced a superb save to deny American striker Josh Sargent from close range. Dheeraj was called upon to make another save in the 15th minute when an attempted clearance saw the ball bounce off US winger Ayo Akinola and almost sneak in at the near post. The US defence came under pressure in the 25th minute when India striker Aniket Jhadav dribbled into the rival penalty area and ultimately earned a corner.

The Americans took the lead when the referee inexplicably awarded a penalty after Indian defender Jitendra Singh tugged at the jersey of Sargent inside the penalty box. Sargent stepped forward to send the ball into the net as Dheeraj dived the other way. The Americans almost doubled their lead shortly after half-time when Akinola dribbled into the penalty area and picked out Sargent inside the six-yard box.

Dheeraj however, displayed excellent reflexes to deny Sargent's close range attempt with a diving save. The hosts however could not rejoice for long as a short while later, the Indian defence failed to clear a high ball inside the box and Durkin punished them with an impeccablefinish. The second goal seemed to affect the morale of the hosts as their defence started to make mistakes.

India got a good chance in the 56th minute when a through ball from Sarkar found Thatal whose attempt went over the bar. India's best chance of the match came in the 84th minute when Anwar Ali's shot from outside the penalty box beat American goalkeeper Justin Garces but hit the underside of the crossbar.

But the third goal for the US came off the subsequent counter-attack as Carleton latched on to a long ball out of the American defence and rounded past Dheeraj to find the net.

Two-time champions Ghana began their FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign with a 1-0 victory over Colombia in a Group A match on Friday. Sadiq Ibrahim scored the all-important goal as Ghana
ran away with three full points in the tournament opener at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

The match did not rise to any great heights with not many attempts at the goal with few good moves coming from both sides. It was end-to-end stuff with Colombia slightly dominating initially before Ghana stamped their authority as the match went on.

New Zealand and Turkey played a 1-1 draw in a Group B clash of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup at the DY Patil Stadium here on Friday. Ahmed Kutucu's 18th-minute strike put Turkey ahead in the 18th minute. Max Mata came up with the equaliser in the 58th minute.

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