ANI Photo | “It was very memorable day”: India’s Usham Singh on opening match of SAFF U-16 Championship 

After the India U-16 Men’s Team edged past Bangladesh in their opening game of the SAFF U16 Championship, Thoungamba Usham Singh said on Sunday that the match was a memorable day for thier team. 
India secured a hard-fought 1-0 win over Bangladesh to open their SAFF U16 Championship campaign on Saturday at the Changlimithang Stadium in Thimphu, Bhutan.
“It was a very memorable day for us all. We had all played for our clubs domestically, but never have we operated at the international level in such a manner before. It was a different feeling to experience all the pre-match ceremonies, the anthems, and the photos. We were all in a bit of awe when these things were happening. But once the match started, it was all about the game,” said Usham as quoted by AIFF’s official website. 
Usham made a lung-bursting run all the way into the opposition box in the 74th minute and was rewarded for his efforts when a rebound off a Manbhakupar Malngiang shot fell to the former, with the goal gaping wide.
“I couldn’t believe it when I saw the ball land at my feet. The goalkeeper had just made a save and he was in no position to save it, and all I had to do was to poke it in,” Usham said about his goal after the match.
“It was not easy to be rejected at the trials again and again. I constantly had doubts about whether any academy would accept me. I even thought maybe I should just quit playing football seriously and focus on my studies,” Usham continued. 
Usham revealed that his parents who were active footballers themself, faced rejection from many clubs but they never asked their son to give up. 
“My parents saw me being rejected by a few clubs and they did not quite buy the idea of me pursuing football. Even after I went for the U-16 National Team trials in Punjab and got shortlisted, they were not convinced,” he said.
“They’re obviously happy that I scored. I haven’t had the opportunity to speak to them for long, but we will see once I get back,” Usham further added. 
“It’s just one game, and we have to do better in the next one. I was able to score only because the entire team worked hard as a unit. Now we need to ensure that we sustain that momentum in the Nepal match as well,” he concluded. 
India will play their second match in Group A of the SAFF U-16 Championship against Nepal on Wednesday, September 6, 2023, at the Changlimithang Stadium in Thimphu, Bhutan. 

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