After falling 3-0 against the same opponents three days back, the Indian U16 side managed to turn the tables on their UAE counterparts with a well-deserved but narrow 1-0 victory on Sunday. The solitary goal came from second-half substitute Suhail Ahmed Bhat in the final match of the friendly exposure trip held at the TYAEB AWNA stadium.
The Blue Colts came into the match with depleted confidence. Although they had won their opening match against local side Liwa FC, they succumbed against UAE U16 in the following fixture. As a result, the youngsters were a little circumspect in the first half of this match as the hosts dominated the ball. However, they were able to keep them at bay during the first period and after some words of encouragement from head coach Bibiano Fernandes, returned all guns blazing in the second half.
The Indians were much more aggressive at the start of the second half and came close a number of times. Suhail, who hails from Kashmir, was brought on in the 55th minute to replace Himangshu Jangra and almost got on the scoresheet instantly. Then in the 79th minute, a pacy surge from winger Tyson Singh down the right flank saw him drill in a low cross which was coolly converted by Suhail. This was his first goal in India colours and he thanked his teammates after the match for making it possible.
Fernandes himself was effusive in his praise for the boys who showed exemplary strength of character to come back from a disappointing defeat. “I'm happy with the boys' performance. We could have done well in the first match but we regrouped well and got the result tonight. This victory will provide the boys with the belief and the boost that we're looking for. That'll be very helpful for the future,” he said.