The Indian U-16 football team pulled off a gritty and clinical performance to hold Uzbekistan in their own backyard to a 1-1 draw in the 2020 (Asian Football Confederation) AFC U16 Championship Qualifiers to earn their berth for the 2020 AFC Championship, slated to be held in Bahrain.
Playing in their final group B fixture, Bibiano Fernandes' boys held hosts Uzbekistan to a draw at the Transportation Institute Stadium in Tashkent, to extend their unbeaten run in the tournament and qualify for the finals. India finished as group toppers with 7 points from three games.
With India needing a draw to assure their berth, the Blue colts were charged up right from the start. They started out strong and was even the first team to get on the scoresheet when Sridarth Nongmeikapam broke the deadlock at the 66th minute. Sridarth Nongmeikapam (66') scored his fifth goal in the competition to become the highest scorer for India.
But with under ten minutes left, Uzbekistan’s Rian Islamov found the back of the net to equalise late into the match and the bring the game back to level terms.
Earlier, the Indian colts have enjoyed successful drubbing over Turkmenistan and Bahrain in the first and second match respectively. After the first two games, India had two clean-sheets and a stunning goal difference of 10.
In their opening tie, the India U16 colts defeated Turkmenistan 5-0 to record their 12th consecutive win in all tournaments. Sridarth Nongmeikapam and Shubho Paul scored twice while Pritam Meetei added to take the total tally to five.
Bibiano’s boys then went on to continue the momentum from their wonderful opening in the AFC U-16 Championship qualifier by registering a 5-0 win over Bahrain.