The India U-23 team suffered a narrow 0-1 defeat to Qatar U-23 in their first match under the tutelage of new gaffer Derrick Pereira at the Aspire Academy ground 5 in Doha, on Monday, March 11.
Three of the starting XI players were from the Indian Arrows setup, while the likes of Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, Anwar Ali, Rahul KP, and Komal Thatal were a part of the India U-17 World Cup squad two years back.
India got off the blocks early, with Mehtab Singh, Komal Thatal and Rahul KP coming close in the early exchanges. However, it was Narender Gahlot, who had the best chance in the first half for India, as he jumped higher than the rest to send a powerful header towards the goal. However, it was saved by Qatari keeper Yazan Naim Hussein.
Despite the chances created by Pereira’s boys, it was Qatar, who got the breakthrough close to the half time break, when a Salmin Atiq pass from the right was met by Amro Abdelfatah Surag, who made no mistake as he bulged the back of the net.
While large parts of the second half was played with both the teams trying to breach each other’s defences, Derrick Pereira made a number of changes. Boris, who had come on for Rahul KP, missed a tap-in after Daniel Lalhimpuia had set him up with a square ball.
Rahim Ali, perhaps, had the best chance of the match, when he found himself in front of an open goal, just 12 yards away from his target. However, he scuffed his shot, as it flew over the bar in injury time.
With this preparatory game done, Derrick Pereira and his boys will now turn their attention to the AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers in Uzbekistan, later this month.
India U-23 Team: Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, Mehtab Singh, Sarthak Golui, Anwar Ali (Asish Rai 90′), Narender, Rahul KP (Boris Singh 56′), Vinit Rai, Abdul Sahal (Rohit Kumar 65′), Lallianzuala Chhangte, Daniel Lalhlimpuia (Rahim Ali 85′), Komal Thatal (Liston Colaco 65′).