New Delhi, September 10: The Indian U-19 football team could not capitalise on the chances it got in each half to lose 0-2 to the French U-19 side in the four-nation tournament in Zagreb, Croatia on Sunday (September 9).
Indian goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Gill denied the French colts a scoring opportunity in the eighth minute but the opponents grabbed the lead in the 18th minute. India had a chance in the 34th minute to level proceedings but Aniket Jadhav, after he was found in the box by Boris Singh, was unable to get the ball past the French goalkeeper.
Goalkeeper Gill came up with another acrobatic save in the 44th minute as both teams headed to the interval with France enjoying a 1-0 lead. Changing over, Aniket had another chance to level the proceedings in the 65th minute but his lob went inches over the crossbar. France sealed the fate of the match in the 73rd minute, making it 2-0.
After the match India head coach Floyd Pinto stated that matches against superior opponents are pivotal in development of a team. "I am happy with the team's performance in the Four-Nation International Tournament," he said.
"The boys stood firm and restricted a far superior opponent for most of the match. Considering some of the French players are playing in French Ligue 1 and Elite Academy, our boys did a brilliant job. They proved that they belonged on the same pitch as their elite opponents. In fact, we had our chances -- Aniket's chance from 25 yards out almost gave them a scare," he added.
"In such matches, it is imperative that we defend well. The two goals we conceded came from minor errors. We need to work on that aspect," he quipped.
The Indian U-19s had earlier lost by a late goal against Slovenia (0-1) and had gone down 0-5 to Croatia in their first match. "All three games were against high quality opponents, preparing for the Euro U-19 2019 Qualifiers. I am extremely proud of my boys.
"Looking back, we were unable to take our chances, especially those against Slovenia. The only blip was the first half against Croatia where we conceded a lot of goals," Pinto added.
"These game help to raise the standard of play and I am thankful to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, SAI, the AIFF General Secretary and the AIFF Director of National Teams for giving us this chance," Pinto stated.
The Indian U-19 team will now leave for the Serbian shores where the Colts will clash against the U-19 Team of Serbia in two back-to-back International Friendlies on September 13 and September 17. "Serbia will be another challenge and we are hopeful about carving out a win. Those matches will further help us in our preparation for the season ahead.
(Source: PTI & AIFF)