TABRIZ CITY: India U-16 National Team went down 0-3 to a strong Iran in their second match of the AFC U-16 Qualifiers in Tabriz City on Friday (September 18).
In another match, Bahrain, who had lost 0-5 to India in the inaugural Group E match, beat Lebanon 2-1.
India now stand on three points from two matches and will play Lebanon in their last Group League match on Sunday (September 20).
Goals from Mohammad Sharaifi (16th), Khodamoradi (43rd) and Ghaderi (57th) helped Iran earn full points.
Congratulating Iran on the victory, Head Coach Nicolai Adam added with a smile, “We look forward to having rematch against Iran in the AFC U-16 Finals next year in India.”
“With due respect to Iran, we played much stronger Teams during the exposure teams in Germany and even won. But to win a game like this you need to play without making mistakes, which we were not able to,” he maintained.
“It was in the last 20 minutes that we played Football. The second goal at the stroke of interval killed us,” he stated. “The boys are young and we have time to prepare them for the bigger challenges that stay ahead.”
“We could not reproduce our good performance which we put up against Bahrain. In my opinion, we lost because we were weak, and not because Iran were strong,” he commented.
“It was not a good match for both sides as there were plenty of long balls played by both sides while Players from this age should play more on the pitch,” he felt.
Iran surged into the lead in the 16th minute. Off a free-kick, all went for the header and it missed all to enter the net.
Just as the Teams seemed to be heading to the interval with the same score, the second goal came a minute prior to the interval.
Goalkeeper Dheeraj was perhaps that shade too late to react to Khodamoradi’s long ranger, and it bulged the net.
Off the very next attack, India almost reduced the margin but even as Ninthoi cut down the left and entered the box, rival Goalkeeper Meraj Esmaeli, the tallest Player on the pitch, stretched himself to the full to block.
Changing over, Sanjiv replaced Aniket and then Rahul came in for Ninthoi in the 68th minute.
It seemed to have an immediate effect as India earned two corners and a free kick in a span of three minutes and had not Sarif disbalanced himself in his effort to tap into the empty net, the deficit could have been reduced.
The Indians seemed to be coming back into their own groove by then. The Iranians were pushed back and defended, at times, just managing to. They used their better physique to their full advantage.
One of Sanjiv’s shot narrowly missed the target and another rasper from Rahul went straight to Meraj.
Joseph came in for Suresh – the last substitution in the 82nd minute but overturning the deficit seemed improbable.