India went down 2-1 to Japan in their second match of the 5th WAFF U-16 Championship at the King Abdullah II Stadium in Jordan on Saturday. Vikram Pratap Singh opened the scoring (26') from the penalty spot for India but conceding two goals (57', 63') in quick succession after the break turned the match in favour of Japan.
It was no surprise as the Japanese came out all guns blazing from the first whistle pinning India's back to the wall. The Indians started from the back only to hand over possession at the centre of the park to their opponents. Goalkeeper Niraj Kumar stood tall between the sticks as he had to deal with a flurry of crosses from both flanks.
After the first 15 minutes the blue cubs started to find a better grip on the game as they constantly tried to slow down proceedings. They started increasing numbers in the attacking third and were trying their luck from distance. Oram Bekey and Givson Singh did not hesitate to pull the trigger as soon as they got a glimpse of goal, but their efforts were too docile to beat opposition keeper.
On the 26th minute India reaped rewards of their constant attacking forays as Vikram Pratap Singh converted a spot-kick to put India ahead.
After the goal India shed their defensive shell as both teams were looking to hit each other at the slightest opportunity. While Vikram's header went inches wide of the post India survived a scare as the Japanese hit the crossbar just two minutes later.
As both teams headed for the tunnel India maintained their slender lead over Japan.
The young Samurai Blues upped their ante in the second-half in search of the equaliser. Within 12 minutes of resumption Japan restored parity in the game as Kuraba Kondo tapped in from close range. Within six minutes they scored another another through Shoji Toyama utilising a defensive lapse of the Indian backline.
The script did not change for the remaining 25 minutes as the Japan stayed alert to close down any Indian counter-attacks. India continued their search for the equaliser but a jungle of legs prevented the strikers from having a crack at goal.
India will next face Iran on August 5 at the WAFF U-16 Championship.