India ended their SAFF U-18 Championship 2017 campaign with a disappointing 2-0 loss to Nepal at the Changlimithang Stadium in Bhutan on Wednesday. The loss pushed India into third-place in the standings, allowing Nepal to clinch the SAFF U-18 title courtesy of a head to head advantage over second-placed Bangladesh.
India suffered an early setback as Nepal broke the deadlock through a free kick in the third minute. A glancing header gave Nepal the lead before they scored again on the counter in the 37th minute to register an efficient victory.
Ashish Rai came closest in the first half for India when his shot was miraculously kept out by the Nepal goalkeeper. Despite the pressure, India failed to carve the Nepal defence open and hence an equalizer failed to materialize.
Nepal steadily paved their way back and took control of the game. The efficiency was never in question as they doubled their efforts through a counter-attack in the 37th minute, leaving the Blues with a mountain to climb after the break.
Things went from bad to worse for India when reliable goalkeeper Aditya Patra had to be substituted in the 56th minute due to an injury.
A counter-attack provided the Colts with another golden chance to come back into the game but the final touch at the end of the move saw Ashish Rai's shot fly inches over the bar and the game ended in a title-winning scoreline for Nepal.
India return home placed third in the table with six points. They lost to Bangladesh in their SAFF U-18 opener before notching back-to-back wins over Bhutan and Maldives.
India U-18: Aditya Patra (GK) (Mohd Haroon 68’), Deepak Tangri, Sahil Panwar (C), Abhisek Halder, Namgyal Bhutia, Edmund Lalrindika, Lalawmpuia, Zonunmawia, Pranjal Bhumij, Princeton Rebello, Ashish Rai.