Madrid (Spain), April 20
The India U-17 team registered a comfortable 4-1 win over Atletico de Madrid U-17 in a friendly game in Madrid on April 19, 2023.
The game is the first of many, where they will play a series of such games against top Spanish clubs.
Bibiano Fernandes’ team are on an exposure tour prior to their assignment at the AFC U-17 Asian Cup in Thailand and the well-drilled side was in no mood to let any doubts about their quality and temperament remain.
The goals started coming in as early as the 6th minute, with India beginning the scoring having staved off a few Atletico attacks. Picking up a through ball on the right flank, Korou Singh Thingujam took a shot at goal, only to see it go in, giving India an early lead.
Forced on the back foot, Atletico started building up play and creating a few chances only to be blocked by a stubborn Indian defence. Leading the pack was captain Surajkumar Ngangbam, who was always at the right place to head away or clear an inbound cross.
After the half-hour mark, India doubled their lead, Korou turning provider this time. The winger picked up Danny Meitei’s throw-in, before crossing the ball into the box for Lalpekhlua, who slotted it in perfectly. Jolted and shocked, for the hosts worse was to follow. Within two minutes, India had a third. For India’s front line, this had become a game of scoring one and then helping another. This time Lalpekhlua turned provider, crossing from the left to allow Shashwat Panwar to open his tally.
Atletico pulled one back in the 38th minute, Gabriel scoring from a rebound after Sahil’s save off the initial attempt to keep the hosts in the game as they headed to the break.
India was content to play on the counter in the second period, the team was more focused on maintaining shape, concentration and discipline off the ball. In the 59th minute, Shashwat played Korou through, on goal. The latter’s pass was well saved by the goalkeeper though.
India kept Atletico at one arm’s length for the better part of the second half, not allowing them to build anything dangerous and controlling the midfield well. Coach Bibiano Fernandes also used the opportunity to rotate his team and give more of the squad a run-in. In the 89th minute, Korou notched his second assist of the game, crossing to substitute Gogocha Chungkham, who scored to complete India’s memorable win.
Starting XI: Sahil (GK); Ricky Meetei Haobam, Mukul Panwar, Malemngamba Singh Thokchom (79′ Pramveer), Surajkumar Singh Ngangbam (C); Gurnaj Singh, Akash Tirkey (60′ Omang Dodum), Danny Meitei Laishram (79′ Rohen Singh Chaphamayum), Korou Singh Thingujam; Lalpekhlua (60′ Gogocha Chungkham), Shashwat Panwar (60′ Gangte Thanglalsoun).