The U-16 Indian national team has qualified for the 2020 AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Championship to be held in Bahrain.
Bibiano Fernandes' boys held hosts Uzbekistan 1-1 at the JAR Stadium on Sunday in their final qualifier to top Group B with 7 points from 3 games. They had picked up 5-0 wins over both Turkmenistan and Bahrain to position themselves comfortably ahead of the final group matchday.
Sridarth Nongmeikapam (66') scored his fifth goal in the competition to break the deadlock but a late goal by Rian Islamov (81') meant that India had to share the spoils.
India started with the same first 11 in all three group games and managed to extend their unbeaten run to 14 matches.
Uzbekistan, on the other hand, stands a chance of qualifying for the finals as one of the top four second-placed teams. They finished with 7 points but with a goal difference of +3 as compared to India's +10.
Taison Singh's 17th-minute effort that flew over was the only notable chance in the first half. Maheson Singh's 51st-minute strike was denied by the rival goalkeeper.
Maheson kept the pressure on the Uzbekistan backline and fired wide at the hour-mark. Sridarth then buried a rebound that fell kindly for him in the 66th minute.
Just as it looked like India would could cruise to a 14th win on the trot, the opponents struck nine minutes from the end of regulation time to settle the game 1-1.
India XI: Aman Kumar Sahani (GK), Pritam Meetei, Singson, Anish Mazumdar, Amandeep, Sibajit Singh, Shubho Paul, Sridarth Nongmeikapam, Maheson Singh (C), Taison Singh, Yoihenba Meitei.
Coach: Bibiano Fernandes.