OFC Youth Tournament 2019: India beat Tahiti to emerge champions
by Shubham Sharma
Port Vila: The India U-19 National Team got the better of Tahiti in the 1/2 place play-off of the Oceanian Developmental Tournament at the Korman Stadium here in Vanuatu on Saturday. Two second-half goals from Manvir Singh (71') and Vikram Partap Singh (88') proved to be sufficient for the Blue Colts to have the emerge victorious against their Oceanic counterparts.
Head coach Floyd Pinto named the same starting XI that defeated New Caledonia three days earlier to seal the place to the final play-off with Tahiti. Givson was given a free role at the centre of the midfield where Ninthoi's agile movement down the flanks proved to be too distressing for the Tahitian defenders. In the third minute, Ninthoi volleyed from a tight angle only to see it sail over the crossbar.
Givson and Ninthoi were trying hard to break the Tahiti defence but the men in red kept them at bay till the stroke of halftime. India were without a doubt, the better side in the first 45 minutes having placed 4 shots on target out of total 12 attempts. On the other hand, Tahiti failed to create any threat inside the 18-yard-box, thanks to India's dominance in the midfield.
After the change of sides, Pinto introduced Gurkirat Singh replacing Aman Chetri in the attacking third who eventually, helped super sub Manvir Singh score his first goal of the tournament to provide India with a much-deserved lead in the 71st minute.
Ninthoi, with his intense pace, cut through the Tahiti defence from the middle and served it on a platter to Gurkirat, who found his target Manvir Singh inside the 6-yard-box and the latter made no mistake nodding the ball past the goalkeeper. Vikram had a very good opportunity to score from inside the box in the 81st minute and open his account but he slipped in the process as his chance went to waste.
But the Indian forward didn't need more than seven minutes to make makeup for the misses as he converted a chip from Gurkirat two minutes before the end of the regulation time which confirmed the Blue colts' third win on the trot.
Gurkirat collected a long ball from Bikash and dodged past the defenders to chip it to an onrushing Vikram who was surprisingly went unmarked by the defenders. Vikram, with a low flat header from outside the 6-yard-box, deceived the opposition custodian to score his second goal in the tournament. Gurkirat thus got his second assist of the match.
Following this triumph in Oceania, India U19 National team now will focus on the upcoming SAFF U19 Championship which is scheduled in September this year.