India U-18s clinch maiden SAFF title

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U-18s: 2 (Vikram Partap Singh 2′, Ravi Bahadur Rana 90’+1′) beat Bangladesh U-18 1 (Yeasin Arafat 40′)

New Delhi, September 29: India U-18 National Team lifted the SAFF U-18 Championship for the first time when they defeated Bangladesh U-18 2-1 in the final in Kathmandu today.

India surged into the lead as early as the 2nd minute when Vikram Partap Singh sped past his marker and banged it in. The match-winner came in late in injury time when the nippy Ravi Bahadur Rana scored off a screamer from about 30 yards. Yeasin Arafat reduced the margin for Bangladesh in the 40th minute.

“I had maintained that it will take a moment of brilliance to end this SAFF Championship, and it was fitting that Ravi finished it off with a wonderful strike,” Head Coach Floyd Pinto stated moments after the final whistle. “We were not just the best footballing team in the tournament, but also the most effective team. I am really happy for the boys. They earned it,” he added. “The sacrifices and the commitment of the boys was exemplary.”

India’s Ninthoinganba Meetei was adjudged the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

The victory makes it sweeter with the U-15 National Team having lifted the SAFF U-15 Championship beating Bangladesh in the final in August 2019. While the U-16 National Team went on to qualify for the AFC U-16 Championships, the U-19 Team will play the AFC Qualifiers in November in their quest to qualify for the AFC Finals.

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