20 July, Doha
The India Under 23 team went down fighting to Syria U-23 in their opening encounter of the AFC U23 Championship China 2018 Qualifiers opener at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium here.
The U-23 boys next play hosts and group favourites Qatar U-23 in their next match tomorrow. India began on a cautious note and pressed hard in their effort to unsettle the physically superior Syrians in the match yesterday.
The first chance of the day fell to striker Daniel Lalhlimpuia but the ex-AIFF Academy cadet could not make the most of the opportunity.Nikhil Poojary on the right flank kept the rival defence busy with his incisive crosses, as the Indian midfield preferred to rotate from one side to the other.
The high point for India came in the 37th minute when a string of passes found the tireless Germanpreet Singh in the clear but his prompt right-footer rebounded off the post for a corner.
The resultant corner, a long one from Anirudh Thapa was met by Nishu Kumar from the top of the box but it missed by a whisker as both teams headed to the interval locked goalless.Changing over, striker Manvir Singh came close to scoring the opener but his header landed safely into the Syrian goalkeeper’s gloves.