AFC U-16 Qualifiers: Five-star India thrash Turkmenistan
by Shubham Sharma
Tashkent: The India U-16 national football team continued on their winning run as they defeated the
Turkmenistan U-16 football team in their opening match of the AFC U-16 Championship Qualifiers at
the Transportation Institute Stadium here on Wednesday.
India has been clubbed alongside hosts Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Bahrain in the qualifiers.
Sridarth was the MVP as he scored a brace, while Shubho Paul was not far behind as he had a goal, and
an assist for Taison Singh to his name. Substitute Himanshu Jangra also scored a goal in the second half
of the match.
India begin the game in a dominating fashion as they started to pose threat to opponent defense right
from the word go.
The teams struggled to however hold much of the ball initially, but India soon took control of the match.
Both sides had chances to score against each other in the opening minutes. The Indian defense led by
Anish Mazumder and Singson got the better of the Turkmen attackers and the combination of Pritam
and Taison down the right flank, looked threatening for India.
India's first real chance in the match came when Sridarth sneaked inside the box and crossed it in for
Shubho, but the latter's header went over the bar from inside the six-yard box.
Just a little before the half-hour mark, however, the Indians broke the deadlock through winger Shubho.
Sridarth was played through into the opponent's box from the right, as he made his way through, played
a dummy, and took the shot. While his attempt was initially saved, Shubho was ever present to turn in
The opponents attempted to mount a comeback for large parts of the first half but the Indian midfield
led by Yoihenba and Sibajit maintained solidity in the middle of the park.
Just a few minutes ahead of the halfway mark, Sridarth doubled the lead. Taison forced himself into the
area and cut inside which was coolly converted in by Sridarth, from inside the six-yard box.
They may have gone into the break with a two-goal lead, but Bibiano's boys picked up right where they
left off. A few minutes into the restart, Taison Singh added the third, as he smashed in a Shubho Paul
cross from just outside the far post.
Bibiano Fernandes then brought on striker Himanshu Jangra in place of Taison Singh, placing Sridarth
out to the wing, and providing some physicality in the forward region.
The physical striker's entry had an immediate effect as he was played through into the box by Maheson
and he went on to finish with great aplomb.
Sridarth finished off the scoring late in injury time, as he put it over the keeper to make it five.