Kathmandu, Sep 24 (IANS) India held defending champions Iraq to a goalless draw in a Group D encounter of the AFC U-16 Championship 2018 Qualifiers at the Halchowk Stadium here on Sunday.
India thus maintained their unbeaten run and finished their group engagements with five points from three matches.
The Indian boys started their campaign with a 3-0 win over Palestine before being held to a 2-2 draw by Nepal.
They will now have to wait for engagements in other groups to finish across other venues all over Asia to find out whether they have made it to the AFC U-16 Finals by virtue of being the best second-placed team across 10 groups.
Meanwhile, Iraq who finished at the top of the group with seven points from three matches, have already booked a ticket to the AFC U-16 Finals slated to be held next year.
The defending champions are also unbeaten in Group D, having beaten bottom-placed Palestine and hosts Nepal in their previous matches.
Knowing that only a victory will hand them a ticket to the AFC U-16 Finals, India started on a positive note. They should have surged into the lead as early as the sixth minute itself but the swift Bekey Oram, despite sneaking in from the flanks, could not get the power behind his shot and the Iraqi goalkeeper managed to save it.
In the 42nd minute, Vikram Pratap made another robust move but Ricky Shabong shot straight to the rival goalkeeper as both teams were locked goalless going into the interval.
Following the restart, Bekey got perhaps the easiest chance of the match when at the hour mark, he had the rival goalkeeper at his mercy from inside the six-yard box. But he couldn’t finish it off.
Two minutes later, Ravi flashed another cross from the left flank but it bounced out.
India U-16 coach Bibiano Fernandes introduced the fresh pair of legs of Harpreet in the 76th minute. Six minutes later Harpreet barged into the Iraqi penalty box with a solo effort. But the Iraqi goalkeeper wasn’t to be beaten.
India went all out thereafter but Iraq were more content to stabilise their defence as they increased numbers at the back. The Indian colts tried hard but Iraq managed to hold on.
Post Source: Ians feed