The Indian U-16 team looked down and out, but two goals in the space of 20 minutes ensured that the host nation secured a point in the second game of match day one of the AIFF Youth Cup, on Sunday.
Nicolai Adam’s side lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation and looked the better side on the ball. On the other hand, Malaysia started in a conventional 4-3-3 formation with a fluid attacking contingent.
The Blue Tigers started off as the better side but Malaysia had the first shot on target in the sixth minute as Mohammad Bin Salauddin’s shot from point blank range was saved expertly by India’s shot stopper, Mohammad Nawaz.
India had a glorious chance to draw first blood in the 10th minute, as Reamsochunng Aimol’s low cross from the right had side fell perfectly for Komal Thatal, who decided to leave the ball for an incoming run on the far post which never came.
India had yet another chance in the 29th minute as Sanjeev Stalin danced past his marker on the left wing to send a near post cross to lone striker Aniket Jadhav, but the latter could not sort his feet out in a tight area to get the shot away.
Jadhav was not done with his share of work for the first half as he wrestled past his marker after a ball was played on the right hand channel and muscled past the onrushing goalkeeper as well, but his shot was cleared off the line by Malaysia defender Mohammad Zabri.
However it was Somasundram Periasamy’s side which was first to do away with the naught mark on the scoreboard in the 43rd minute as they went ahead courtesy of a top corner finish in the box by Muhammad Sallahuddin.
At half-time, Malaysia held the edge over the host country.
The second half began with both sides having spells of possession and the first chance of the second-half came only in the 58th minute, when an unmarked Komal Thapal headed a cross from the right above the crossbar.
India had yet another chance two minutes later, as Aniket Jadhav and Khumaantem Meetel played a delicious one-two pass at the edge of the box and the latter’s shot went above the bar courtesy of a deflection.
The Blue Tigers were off the mark yet again as Sanjeev Stalin missed a golden opportunity to restore parity in the 73rd minute after the winger found himself facing the goal courtesy of a Boris Thangjam cross into the box, but he could not sort his feet out in time.
Malaysia however made it 2-0 in the 78th minute through a penalty, which was calmly converted by Malaysia’s skipper, Arif Suhami. The penalty was awarded to the South-East Asian country after India’s Muhammad Sarif Khan bought down Harzan Hafiz.
India however had an immediate response as Komal Hatal scored from a long-distance shot to make it 1-2. The India no.10 wriggled pulled the trigger with his shot having bend and zip on it than the Malaysian goalkeeper could handle.
The host nation kept the pressure on and it paid dividends for the same as they restored parity in the 94th minute. Nongthombam Singh took a shot from outside the box which was spilled by Malaysia’s goalkeeper and fell kindly to Boris Thangjam, who had the simplest of finishes to put into effect.
The game ended at 2-2 after an action packed second half.