One can feel the adrenaline rush. Heart thumping fast. Sweating profusely on a hot night in New Delhi, witnessing earth shattering decibel levels. The levels were such that Supreme Court might ban matches in the capital just like fire crackers. Thrice entire stadium’s heart came to the mouth. And then came the moment, the stadium erupted along with the historical glorious moment. The entire Lodhi Road (Area were JLN stadium is situated) would have know at that instant that India have scored. Immediately deathly silence took over the eruption. The next moment the stadium erupted again, just like an extra man running alongside the eleven young guns. Pushing them to go for the equaliser. The young guns tasted defeat but everyone knew the future is bright and India has got its next gen warriors.
The opening match was a mouth-watering and interesting fixture. Both Ghana and USA have won their opening matches. The winner proceeds to the next round. The fight was on. Ghana started with the whirl wind fashion, fluent one touch passes, electrifying speed and threatening the USA goal. USA stood their ground, absorbed the initial pressure and started growing in the game with their own pace. Both Ghana and USA missed opportunities which is called missing the open net. Even the Ghana’s custodian presented a golden opportunity and all it needed was a simple tap in but it was shot wide. The finishing was lacking from both the sides. After the change of ends the story was repeated again. When it seemed that the match was headed for a stalemate, USA produced a moment of brilliance and went ahead. The goal by Akinola was all that separated the two teams which matched each other equally. The match also had its fair share of injuries with one of the players from Ghana rushed to hospital.
The crowd has started to build up. With the ticketing site and the on spot ticket counter proudly displaying a houseful tag, half of the stadium was filled with school kids (which is a very good thing). It was also heartening to see that people have brought not only their children but family also. The stage was set. Supporters under the banner of Blue Pilgrims occupied an entire stand. The stadium was coming to life. It roared to life when the Indian team came out for their warm up. As promised by Coach Luis Norton De Matos the Indian line up was a changed one. The impressive Komal Thatal was left on the bench. Boris came in as the left back (he should have played the first game) and also in came buddy of Indian captain Amarjit Singh Jeakson Singh. The stadium erupted to life when the teams walked in for the start of the match. When you sing the national anthem along with the stadium and your team it’s a goose bump moment. You can feel the passion.
The match begins. The stadium echoes of war cries. Massive thumping of chairs shakes the stadium. Its equivalent to the thumping of hundreds of drums. The school kids take the lead and the stadium follows. The Indian team acknowledges the same and starts in a whirl wind fashion surprising not only the spectators but the opponent team Colombia as well. Dheeraj Singh in the Indian goal make couple of fine saves. One must be assured that with Dheeraj the tradition of India in producing some very good shot stoppers is continuing. But the heart to mouth moment came when India missed two golden opportunities to take the lead. The Colombian goalkeeper made a fine save to thwart India. Indian defence was holding good. Anwar Ali had another solid evening. If groomed well he will marshal the defence line for India. His style of play reminds one of Sandesh Jhingan. Boris with his nippy run down the left flank made inroads into the Colombian territory. The midfield was marshalled well with Amarjit leading the way. The Colombians haven’t anticipated this especially after watching the Indian outing against USA. The Colombians slowed the pace, tried to spread the game but the Indians were in no mood to let up. The diminutive Indians were matching their much fancied opponents, technically and physically superior, step to step. At the break the score line read 0-0. Yes after the rocky start India was certainly poised for creating an upset (Read Here). Expectations were running high. It was a total despatch from the previous match. The boys knew what to do when they had the ball. The passing was more fluent. The fighting attitude was as it is. The attitude was making up for the physical inequality and they were playing for a win.
The second half starts in the same fashion as the first and the stadium is hit by Mexican waves. Its waves after waves. Enormous roar engulfs stadium with massive thumping of chairs. Everyone is immersed in the electrifying atmosphere. Then a Colombian counter attack dented the expectations to an extent. The ball was received by Colombian No.11 Pena on the right side of the Indian box. After gaining a few steps he unleashed a beautiful curler for which the Indians had no answer. That was a master class and definitely one of the best goals of the tournament. The Indians didn’t lose hope. Cheered on by an army of eccentric fans, Indians started to look for an equaliser. Then came the moment. The moment which everyone was waiting for. The moment which will go down the annals of Indian football folklore. In 82nd minute India won a corner. Jaekson rose to meet the ball and guided the same into the Colombian goal. Eruption is small word to describe what went around the stadium. Emotions were running high. But within a few seconds Colombia restored their lead.
The stadium is stunned. No one can believe what happened. Dejection. Lesson to be learnt about how quick you have to transform yourself from one zone to another. From attack to defence. This is where other teams have advantage over us. Technically they are superior. Egged on by the vociferous crowd the Indians looked for another equaliser. But the Colombians slowed down the pace of the game. They knew they had the game in their pocket. The crowd knew what it was expecting was a tall order. The young guns went hard but alas the story wasn’t meant to be a fairy-tale ending. Colombia emerged winners but Indian young guns emerged winners for an entire nation. The boys showed that they can challenge the best in the business. The entire team was a standout performer. Dheeraj, Namit, Anwar, Sanjeev, Boris, Amarjit, Jaekson, Abhijit, Rahul, Ninthogianba and Rahim are all man of the match. They not only produced a mature display but also showed to the entire country that we can play football. The last fixture is again an interesting one as both Ghana and Colombia needs to win their respective matches to proceed to the next round. Expecting another electrifying performance from the boys.
The road is long but the belief is everything stand up for Indian football – West block blues.
Image Credits: ANI News
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