2020 AFC U-16 Championship Qualifiers: India hold Uzbekistan, qualify for finals
The U-16 Indian national team have qualified for the 2020 AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Championship that will be held in Bahrain.
Bibiano Fernandes' boys held hosts Uzbekistan 1-1 at the JAR Stadium, Tashkent, to top Group B with 7 points from 3 games following 5-0 wins over both Turkmenistan and Bahrain.
Sridarth Nongmeikapam (66') scored his fifth goal in the competition, the highest for India, but a late goal by Rian Islamov (81').
India started with the same first 11 in all three group games but were not able to extend on their 13-match unbeaten run.
Uzbekistan, on the other hand, have a bright chance of qualifying for the finals as one of the top four second-placed teams. They finished with 7 points but with a goal difference of +3 as compared to India's +10.
Taison Singh's 17th minute effort that went above the target was the only notable chance in the first half in Sunday's qualifier, while Maheson Singh's 51st strike would be denied by the rival goalkeeper.
Minutes after Maheson kept the pressure on the Uzbek backline and fired wide at the hour-mark, Sridarth was finally at hand to bury a rebound that fell kindly for him in the 66th minute.
However, it was not going to be a 100 percent record for India in the qualifiers on account of Islamov's 81st minute equaliser.
India, under coach Bibiano Fernandes, made it to the quaterfinals in the 2018 AFC U-16 Championship and will have a shot at qualifying for the 2021 FIFA U-17 World Cup given a top teams from the AFC Championship to be handed a spot.
India XI: Aman Kumar Sahani (GK), Pritam Meetei, Singson, Anish Mazumdar, Amandeep, Sibajit Singh, Shubho Paul, Sridarth Nongmeikapam, Maheson Singh (C), Taison Singh, Yoihenba Meitei.
Coach: Bibiano Fernandes.