KATHMANDU: Lalrokima and Vikram struck in the second half to guide India to SAFF Under-15 Championship title win as the visitors edged past hosts Nepal 2-1 in the final, here on Sunday.
The India team, which had players from AIFF’s Regional Academy, trailed by a goal at the interval but Lalrokima and Vikram's timely strikes saved the day for India.
Ravi came close to scoring in the 14th minute while Harpreet’s header missed the target narrowly soon after. Ravi shot it straight into the keeper’s hands as India launched one attack after another.
India looked like the team more likely to score but Nepal earned a penalty against the run of play in the 40th minute.
The penalty was converted and the hosts headed to the dressing room leading 1-0 at the interval.
India could have equalised right at the beginning of the second half but the players could not finish off their chances. Givson’s free-kick struck the cross bar in the 56th minute as luck continued to elude the boys.
Finally, Lalrokima struck in the 58th minute to draw parity. The goal infused life into the game as India roared in search of their second goal.
Sailo’s effort was saved while Vikram hit it just wide as India bombarded the Nepal goalfront. But the Nepali defence stone walled every effort until captain Vikram netted the ball in the 74th minute to put India into the lead.
"Congratulations to the boys and entire staff. The manner the boys have played is a clear indication of how a structured Youth Development Programme can raise the bar," AIFF President Praful Patel said.
"The AIFF Academy boys won many hearts with their splendid display. The Academy programme has been yielding results and I am confident this bunch of boys would go on to bring more laurels for the Country," said Kushal Das, AIFF General Secretary.