A piece of history was written at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Friday as India made their FIFA debut in the U-17 World Cup, kicking off proceedings against the USA.
It was an historic moment despite the end result. At the final whistle, India went down 0-3 but goalkeeper Dheeraj Moirangthem and winger Komal Thatal stood out with their gutsy display on the field.
Well played boys.Better luck next time.Its beging of new era6 October 2017
India had got off to a nervous start with the visitors starting a series of attacks but Moirangthem backed himself and protected his team from USA's attempt to break the duck.
But Moirangthem's efforts were watered down in the 30th minute, after a penalty offered forward Josh Sargent with an opportunity which put USA in the lead. However, India fought back in the dying moments of the first half as their forwards kept penetrating the visitor's defence. The equaliser, though, failed to materialise as the first half ended.
However, India couldn't keep it going for long. Just seven minutes into the second half, USA's Chris Durkin delivered the second blow when he deflected one to the back of the net. A show was unfolding for the estimated 45,000-strong fans in the stadium.
With India trailing, Thatal took it upon himself to try and deliver the goods. He came ever-so-close to an equaliser when he sprinted towards the post with just the goalkeeper ahead of him but he stroked the ball a little too hard as it went over the post.
#INDvUSA great attack by India. Missed by a whisker!— Arpana Rawat (@ArpanaR1) 6 October 2017
The efforts continued as India crafted a string of aggressive moves in the 70th minute although they lacked that illusive finishing touch.
Anwar Ali was India's last hope as his well-directed shot could have broken the deadlock. But he only managed to hit the crossbar. India's bad luck continued as Andrew Carleton then caressed the ball for USA's third goal in the 84th minute and that was it for India.
On their World Cup debut, India had shades of brilliance but lacked the quality to finish their moves. But the fight shown by the hosts justifies their berth in the completion.
India will take on Colombia on Monday and will hope for a win to keep their chances alive in the tournament.