India U-23 national team started their campaign on a disastrous note as they went down 1-0 against Sri Lanka in the opening match of the South Asian Games 2016 at Guwahati on Saturday afternoon.
Lee Johnson had the choice of fielding three overage players, but chose to include only Rowllin Borges in the starting line-up alongside ten U-23 players.
East Bengal goalkeeper T.P.Rehenesh started between the sticks, while Pritam Kotal and Narayan Das were deployed as the full-backs. Sandesh Jhingan, who has been named the captain for the competition, paired up at the heart of the defense with Bengaluru FC defender Salam Ranjan Singh. Rowlin started at the center of the pitch alongside 19-year old Lallianzuala Chhangte, while Vinit Rai and Udanta Kumam started on the flanks. Sporting Clube de Goa striker Sumeet Passi started with India international Holicharan Narzary upfront.
The deadlock was broken by the visitors early, when their captain MC Rinas hit the back of the net with a direct free-kick, with only 14 minutes on the clock. India created a number of half-chances in the game, but failed to make any of them count. Sumeet Passi, Chhangte and Rowlin were all guilty of wasting chances.
Johnson's men were dealt with another blow when Sandesh Jhingan had to leave the field injured and it remains to be seen whether he can play any part in the remaining matches of the competition.
India will play Maldives in their second and last group league match on Wednesday with top two teams from the group slated to make it to the semi-finals.