India beats Nepal to the U-16 SAFF Championship crown

Birthday boy Jerry Lalrinzuala scored the only goal of the match, to script a well-deserved win for a side that has won every game in the biennial tournament...

India represented by All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) Regional Academy blanked hosts Nepal 1-0 in the final played at the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu on Wednesday (July 30, 2013).

Left back Jerry Lalrinzuala scored the only goal of the match – a left-footed long ranger in the 18th minute – to script a well-deserved win for a side that has won every game in the biennial tournament.

On a rain-soaked afternoon in Kathmandu, India dominated proceedings from the kick-off, with the boys showing exemplary maturity to adjust to the slushy underfoot conditions. Despite being backed by a partisan crowd, Nepal were pushed on the backfoot.

Birthday boy Jerry could not have asked for a better gift. The 14-year old Mizoram lad impressed one and all with his darting overlaps down the left flank and was rewarded for his performance in the 18th minute.

Latching on to a loose ball just outside the 18-yard box, Jerry unleashed a venomous 30-yarder out which crashed into the top corner of the net.

The colts in Blue continued to impress post the breather as the rain kept pouring down. Jerry almost doubled his tally ten minutes into the second half when his free-kick from just outside the box went inches wide and then in the 66th minute, midfielder Deependra Singh Negi’s attempt from close was fisted away by the Nepal custodian.

Nepal, backed by their fans, launched an offensive towards the latter part of the game, to get back into the match. If skipper Jayananda Singh’s last-ditch tackle in the 84th minute saved a sure shot goal, goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh had a match to remember making some crucial saves to keep the hosts at bay, especially in the last quarter of the match.

Eventually, the hosts were not able to equalize, and the Indian team held on, to be crowned the U-16 SAFF Championship winners.

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