A brilliant hattrick by Gurkirat Singh guided hosts India to clinch the SAFF U-20 Championship title for the 2nd consecutive times beating last time runners-up Bangladesh by 5-2 goals in the final at the Kalinga Stadium of Bhubaneswar, India Friday night.
With the day's feat, hosts India not only clinched the SAFF U-20 Championship title for the 2nd consecutive time after 2019, but also took sweet revenge of their 1-2 goals defeat against Bangladesh in the league basis match.
The match was locked in 1-1 goals in the first half and was again locked in 2-2 goals in the stipulated 90-minute that forced the final to 30-minute extra session.
In the day's keenly contested final, Gurkirat Singh made a hattrick scoring four goals in the 2nd, 60th,93rd and 99th minutes while Himanshu Jhangta netted other goal for India in the 92nd minute
With the day's feat, Gurkirat Singh emerged as the highest scorer and most valuable player of the meet.. Indian custodian Som Kumar named as the best goal keeper while Sri Lanka team was adjudged most disciplined team.
In the stipulated time of the final, Gurkirat put hosts India ahead in the very 2nd minute of the match from a penalty (1-0).
Rajon Howlader leveled margin for Bangladesh in the 45th minute by an straight shot from goalmouth melee, utilizing a brilliant pass of right winger Rafiqul Islam (1-1).
Bangladesh took lead from behind in the 48th minute when Shahin Mia found the Indian net by a good shot from a melee (2-1).
Gurkirat Singh leveled the margin gor India in the 60th by a low shot from danger zone after receiving a ball from mouth melee (2-2) to lock the match 2-2 in schedule period.
In the extra session, Himanshu Jhangta again put India ahead in the 92nd minute while Gurkirat Singh added two goals within just six minutes guiding India to their 2nd crown.
Bangladesh team, which yet to win the SAFF U-20 title (previously known as SAFF U-19 and U-18 meet) losing three consecutive finals --first against Nepal in 2017 in Bhutan, 2nd and 3rd against India in 2019 and 2022.
Earlier, Bangladesh smartly reached the final of the regional youth soccer meet as the lone unbeaten team in the ongoing meet securing 10 points from four league matches after beating Sri Lanka by 1-0 goal, hosts India 2-1, the Maldives 4-1 and playing 1-1 draw with two times champions Nepal.
India booked a seat for the final securing nine points from four matches after beating Sri Lanka by 4-0 goals, outplaying Nepal 8-0 and the Maldives 1-0 before conceding 1-2 defeat against Bangladesh in their first match.
Five South Asian nations – India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka--took part in this year's fourth edition of the regional youth soccer meet.
Nepal and India are the most successful nations in the meet winning the title twice while Bangladesh finished runners-up on third consecutive times.