In their first match against the USA on Friday, the Indian team lost but won hearts with their fighting football. On Monday night, 16-year-old Indian midfielder Jeakson Thounaojam scored the historic goal against Colombia, tough the host went down 1-2 – again, not before putting up a fabulous performance.
Colombian midfielder Juan Penaloza scored both goals, in the 49th and 83rd minutes, while Thounaojam scored in the 82nd minute that brought the stadium down. The second Colombian goal came as a rude shock for India and the 48,184 spectators who were still celebrating the historic first goal.
Before the Indian players could realise the enormity of the occasion and could settle down, Penaloza banged in the second goal in the very next minute, sending the stadium in a pin drop silence. At half time, the score was 0-0.
Although India, playing their first ever under-17 World Cup, virtually can’t progress in the tournament now, with two defeats in as many matches in Group A, they have exceeded the expectations with their gutsy performances. They saw their superior opponents in the eye, fought against all odds, and never gave up despite being much shorter than their rivals in height but nit in skill and fighting spirit.
India have no points from two matches, while the USA on Monday became the first team from Group A to qualify for the Round of 16 with a 1-0 win over Ghana. Colombia and Ghana have three points each and one of them would progress to the next round from Group A.
The Indian players put in their best foot forward right from the word go, as the match started in 30 degree Celsius and 44% humidity inside the iconic Nehru Stadium in New Delhi. And they continued in the same vein throughout.
India will take on Ghana on Thursday at the same venue in their last group league match.
Other match results:
In the day’s other matches, the USA edged past Ghana 1-0 in Group A, Mali thrashed Turkey 3-0 in Group B, and Paraguay defeated New Zealand 4-2.