Second half goals from Amarjit Kiyam, Abhishek Halder and Edmund Lalrindika secured a 3-0 win for India against Turkmenistan in the final group qualifier of AFC U-19 Championship held at the Prince Mohammad B Fahad Stadium in Saudi Arabia. Despite the win, India crashed out following a third-place finish in Group D behind Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Coach Luis Norton de Matos fielded his team in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Rahim Ali upfront as the lone striker. Anwar Ali returned to marshal the defence alongside Jitendra. Nongdamba and Namgyal Bhutia replaced Kumantem and Rahuk Kannoly Preveen for the final qualifier.
India started the game brightly with Rahim Ali and the attacking band of three behind the striker keeping the opposition defenders on alert.
India's first major chance to break the deadlock came in the 18th minute when the ball found Rahim Ali's feet inside the box but the striker could only find the goalkeeper and not the net. Two minutes later, the busy forward delivered a dangerous cross that missed Namgyal Bhutia's run by inches.
Right-back Boris Singh had a wonderful opportunity to give his team the lead when he faced the goalie one-on-one following a neat give-and-go with Abhishek Halder but the finish was too straight and at the goalkeeper.
It was against the run of play that India finally managed to score the opening goal of the game. Skipper Amarjit Kiyam scored India's first goal of the AFC U-19 qualifiers in the 75th minute.
Abhishek Halder tapped the ball into an empty net to double Colts' lead. Edmund Lalrindika struck in added time after ninety minutes to seal a 3-0 consolation win for India.
India ended their qualifying campaign with four points from their three group games. India might have had a chance at qualification if not for a heavy 5-0 defeat at the hands of host Saudi Arabia and failure to find the net in a goalless draw against Yemen in their last two games. The points won against Turkmenistan will not be tallied for the determination of the five best second-placed teams since they are the fourth-placed team in the group.
India starting XI:
Dheeraj Singh (GK); Boris Singh, Jitendra Singh, Anwar Ali, Sanjeev Stalin; Nongdamba Naorem, Amarjit Singh (C), Suresh Singh, Namgyal Bhutia, Abhishek Haldar, Rahim Ali.