India U-19 boys beat Vanuatu 1-0 in OFC developmental meet

India U19 National Team starting XI v Vanuatu.

New Delhi, Sumit Rathi’s second-half strike from the top of the box earned India U-19 national team a 1-0 win against hosts Vanuatu in their opening fixture of the OFC Developmental Tournament 2019 at the Korman Stadium in Port Villa, Vanuatu, on Sunday.

Coach Floyd Pinto opted to field four defenders at the back while Aman Chetri was put upfront in the attacking third who rattled the crossbar in the third minute of the match.

Off the rebound, Chetri took another valiant attempt from close range but the opponent goalkeeper parried with it safely.

Givson was mostly operating as a free agent in the middle of the park while Vikram Partap Singh was gunning from the right flank.

Vikram and Givson kept the Vanuatu defender on their toes but the hosts somehow managed to keep a clean sheet until the end of the first half.

After the breather, India earned back-to-back corners in quick succession but to no avail. Coach Pinto, having put in Gurkirat Singh at the expense of Aman Chetri, tweaked his strategy in their pursuit of the elusive goal.

Givson, on the 73rd minute, tried his luck from 40-odd yards only to see his shot sail over the crossbar. Five minutes later, India finally got the breakthrough.

Givson took a short corner to Ninthoi who on receiving the same, rolled it to Vikram who, from the edge of the sideline, pushed to the opponent box and Sumit Rathi, having snuck in losing his marker, found the back of the net eventually.

India will face off with New Caledonia in their next fixture on Wednesday.