The Indian Colts ended their SAFF U-15 Championship on a high after they registered a 1-0 win over hosts Nepal in a third-place playoff match. A first-half strike from Thlacheu Vanlalruatfela eventually proved to be different between the two sides.
The first half of the game was a rather quiet affair, with both teams not creating many chances. Though, India managed to head into the break with an upper hand. The two teams got locked in a battle for possession in the middle of the park with India making the most on the counterattack.
India got the much-needed breakthrough in the 18th minute through Vanlalruatfela, who scored after some great piece of interplay between his teammates. After few slick exchanges of passes in the final third, the forward was played through on goal. With only the keeper to beat, Vanlalruatfela showed great composure and poise to hammer the ball into the roof of the net.
Nepal looked to bounce back after that setback but struggled to create chances and keep possession in dangerous areas as the Indian team stood firm and forced the hosts to go for long-range efforts, which were easily dealt with by Indian keeper Santosh Singh.
India could have doubled their advantage in the 42nd minute but the Nepal custodian was up to the tas as he dived sharply to his right to produce a fine save and divert the shot for a corner.
In the second half, India adopted a more defensive approach as they looked to hold onto their lead all the way. Though, the defence remained largely untroubled and kept the Nepal attackers at bay, with Santosh being called into action once and captain Jongte Lalpekhlua playing a dominant role in the middle of the park.
Nepal had a half-chance in the 72nd minute but the first-time shot from a long pass by their forward did not get the required connection. Nine minutes later, the Indian keeper pulled off a fine save as he denied the hosts from close range after a melee in the penalty area.
India's best chance came in the 77th minute after a free header from a corner sailed narrowly wide. In the end, it was enough to see them clinch the bronze medal at the tournament as they held on comfortably for the win.