Feras Albrikan’s hattrick helps Saudi Arabia thrash India 5-0 in the opening match of the AFC U-19 Championship 2018 qualifiers at the Prince Mohammad B Fahad Stadium, Saudi Arabia. Abdulaziz Naser Alshahrani and Abdullah Alhamddan scored the other goals.
Coach Luis Norton de Matos fielded his team in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Rahim Ali upfront as the lone striker. Quite surprisingly forward Roshan Singh was deployed as the left back. Anwar Ali partnered skipper Sahil Panwar at the heart of the defence.
The hosts took charge of the game from the very beginning. They came very close to score as early as in the fourth minute. Hamad Alabdan dribbled past two defenders inside the penalty box and attempted a shot at goal but the ball went inches above the crossbar.
But The Green Falcons did not have to wait long for the deadlock to break. Alhamddan took advantage of a sloppy defending from Anwar Ali. The midfielder cut inside the box from the left side and unleashed a shot which went straight inside the goal.
Saudi could have easily increased their lead in the first half itself but some desperate defending and Dheeraj’s brilliance under the bar denied them from scoring.
Feran Albikran struck within five minutes of the second half with a brilliant shot to double his team’s lead. Norton de Matos made two quick changes in the second half introducing Sanjiv Stalin in place of makeshift left-back Roshan Singh and Edmund Lalrindika in place of Rahim Ali.
Abdulaziz further increased the lead in the 75th minute with a powerful shot from the edge of the box. Dheeraj had absolutely no chance of saving the goal.
By the 80th minute, Saudi Arabia were completely making a mockery out of the Indian defenders. The fourth and fifth goals were identical. The fourth one was created by Muhannad Mustafa who outpaced Stalin on the right side and kept a pass for Albrikan who just had to tap in. The fifth one was created by Mohammed Mali once again beating Stalin on the flanks.
Earlier, in the first match of the group, Yemen had defeated Turkmenistan 3-0. India next face Yemen on November 6th.
India starting XI: Dheeraj Singh; Ashish Rai, Sahil Panwar, Anwar Ali, Roshan Singh; Abhishek Halder, Jeakson Singh, Princeton Rebello, Rahul KP, Nongdamba Naorem; Anwar Ali