India began their 2020 AFC (Asian Football Confederation) U-16 Championship Qualification campaign with a thumping 5-0 win over Turkmenistan at the Transportation Institute Stadium in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on Wednesday.
Goals by Shubho Paul (24'), Sridarth Nongmeikapam (41', 90+2'), Taison Singh (52') and Himanshu Jangra (88') gave Bibiano Fernandes's side a bright start in Group B, where they are pitted alongside Turkmenistan, Bahrain and hosts Uzbekistan.
It took 24 minutes for the Indians to open their account through Paul's finish from close range after the rebound off the Turkmenistan goalkeeper's save against Sridarth's shot fell at his feet.
Moving towards half-time, Sridarth doubled the lead with an opportunistic strike from inside the box after Taison Singh had done the hard work to get the ball in the area.
Crossing sides, in less than 10 minutes, Paul set up Taison within the penalty area and the latter blasted it into the back of the net to triple India's advantage. Himanshu added another in the 88th minute to add to the visitors' dominance.
Sridarth completed a fine display in the game with an exquisite finish in injury time to bring up his brace.
India came into the qualifiers on the back of stringent preparations both home and away that included winning the 2019 SAFF (South Asian Football Federation) U-15 Championship at home besides trips to Italy, Thailand and Turkey.
The Blue Colts' last appearance in the AFC U-16 Championship finals was in 2018 when they finished as quaterfinalists under the same coach.
India XI: Aman Kumar Sahani (GK), Pritam Meetei Sorokhaibam, Paogoumang Singson, Anish Mazumder, Amandeep, Sibajit Singh Leimapokam, Shubho Paul, Sridarth Nongmeikapam, Maheson Singh Tongbram (C), Taison Singh Loitongbam, Yoihenba Meitei Sukham.