New Delhi [India]: The two-match international friendly series between India U-23 and Singapore U-23 ended 1-1 when India went down narrowly to Singapore by a solitary goal in the second match played at the Choa Chu Kan Stadium in Singapore on Wednesday.
India had beaten Singapore 1-0 in the first match on July 9, a Germanpreet Singh left-footed curler making the difference between the two sides.
The Indian contingent will next travel to Doha on July 15 where they have been clubbed with hosts Qatar, Turkmenistan and Syria in Group C of the AFC U-23 Qualifiers which kick-off on July 19.
“I am disappointed with the result. I thought the boys fought very hard but we lacked a bit of quality in the final third and it cost us in the end,” said coach Constantine said. “However, I can say that we didn’t deserve to lose the game.”
“The objective is to find players for the senior team and there are certainly some players who if they continue the manner they are doing now have a serious chance to push for the senior national team,” he stated.
Meanwhile, defender Salam Ranjan Singh who faced a nasty challenge in his face was rushed to the hospital for a cut under his lip wherein he had three stitches.
Both the teams opted for a slow but cautious start as they tried to consolidate the attacks from the midfield. The hosts almost found the back of the net within first five minutes but Vishal Kaith gloved the long ball with much ease.
In next two minutes, the Himachal Pradesh-born goalkeeper showed his character once again when he threw himself to save a point-blank range effort, which was followed by a deadly goal line save by Lalruatthara.
After the clock ticked off the 10-minute mark, Germanpreet Singh, who scored the winner two days back, swiveled a long-ranger from the middle of the pitch but Nikhil Poojari couldn’t reach it on time.
Manvir Singh, Nikhil Poojari and skipper Daniel Lalhlimpuia started to press the hosts hard but the opening goal stayed elusive for Stephen Constantine’s boys in the first 45 minutes.
Indians had quite a few half-chances in the first half but the sole attack on target was from Mumbai-based Nikhil Poojari whose feeble header was saved by the opposing goalkeeper in the 38th minute.
After the changeover, Indians came very close to scoring the opener but Nikhil’s left-footer missed the target by a whisker.
However, Ikhsan Fandi put the hosts in the driving seat from the penalty spot after Salam Ranjan Singh brought him down inside the box.
With the clock ticking, Manvir took off on his own to outrun the Singaporean defender before hitting the side-netting in the 76th minute.
Seven minutes from the end of regulation time, Alen Deory could’ve drawn India level, but he mistimed his jump and failed to make contact with the ball.
Manvir continued to impose threats towards the final minutes of the match but his inch-perfect pass in the 87th minute got wasted as Nikhil Poojari caught offside. (ANI)