India qualified for the SAFF U19 Championship semifinals with a 2-1 victory over Bhutan at the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu on Monday. Both the teams were locked 1-1 at half-time. Jigme Namgyel gave Bhutan the lead in the 20th minute but India bounced back through goals from Gwgwmsar Goyary and Ricky Meetei. India went into the Group B match with an upperhand, having defeated Bangladesh 3-0. To add to that, Bhutan’s 4-3 victory against Bangladesh meant that India needed only a draw to secure the top spot in the group and subsequently, a place in the semifinals.
In the semifinal, India will cross swords with the hosts Nepal on Wednesday.
A tight contest ensued in the middle of the park as the two sides looked to gain control of the game.
India looked to overload the wings as Raja Harijan sent searching aerial through balls onto the flanks.
However, against the run of play, it was Bhutan who took the lead through Namgyel, whose cross from the right flank fooled everyone and crept into the top corner.
India, for their part, managed to create some confusion inside the Bhutan penalty box, as they sent aerial balls, aiming for their rotating target man.
Taorem had another opportunity in the 36th minute when a cross from the left by Naoba Meitei was flicked on by the former, but it was saved from point-blank range by Gyeltshen.
The Blue Colts finally had their equaliser almost immediately, when a similar aerial through ball was fed into the box where it bounced over the keeper, before Goyary hustled his way in and nodded it into an empty net.
India started on the front foot in the second half and took the lead in the 64th minute with a corner that was clearly worked out in training.
Yash Chikro, instead of looping the corner into the box, sent a grounded drive to the top of the box, where an unmarked Meetei pounced on the opportunity and side-footed it into the bottom corner with an accurate shot