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AFC U16 C'ships: A commendable journey comes to an end as India lose in QF

AFC U16 Cships: A commendable journey comes to an end as India lose in QF
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Published: 1 Oct 2018 2:38 PM GMT
In a heartbreaking loss, the Indian U16 Football team ended their AFC U16 Championships campaign with a 1-0 loss vs Korea Republic. A date with destiny beckoned the Indian U16 football team. The Boys in Blue headed out onto the pitch, knowing, that a win would ensure their place in next year's FIFA U17 World Cup in Peru. India had played for the first time ever in any FIFA event in 2017 when the U17 World Cup came to the country. However, a win against South Korea would mean that the Blue Colts would make it through to a FIFA event on merit for the first time. India started the match on the backfoot, a situation which prevailed throughout the entirety of the first half. In all honesty, their opponents of the day- South Korea- were much slicker and looked a cut above. South Korea was responsible for breaking Indian hearts in 2002, which remains the only other edition of the tournament in which India have made it through to the quarters. Eager not to repeat history, India kept a tight united and defended quite heroically. Niraj Kumar, India's standout performer throughout the tournament, was once again the most impressive; saving multiple Korean efforts during an eventful first half. Niraj Kumar had so far kept 3 clean sheets in 3 games adding on to his prodigal tendencies but the 67th minute yilded a massive blow as Korea Republic found the back of the Indian net to make it 1-0. The goalscorer was Jeong Sang-Bin The goal gave Korea heart and it was all Niraj could do to save the goals and prevent them from extending the lead. India had two shots on target and did quite well to defend the incessant attacks. In the end, it was just a case of the better team winning. The U16 team have come quite far in the tournament and have made the country sit up and take notice. In the group stage, this young team beat Vietnam 1-0 in their first match and then held Iran and Indonesia (in front of a supportive home crowd) to a 0-0 draw to reach the QFs for the first time since 2002. The Indian team has also garnered praise from the opponents as the Korean coach Kim Jung Soo was quoted as saying this in a previous press conference before the Quarterfinal. "The Indian defence line does its job well and I give them credit for keeping three clean sheets in the three matches of the group stages," he reportedly said.
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