New Delhi: Captain Amarjit Singh attributed India's heartbreaking defeat against Colombia to "bad luck" but was very proud of his first cousin, Jeakson, who scored the country's first goal in any FIFA World Cup.
India came agonisingly close to securing their first ever draw, if not a win, in a FIFA tournament when Jeakson Singh Thanoujam's bullet header found the back of the net against Colombia in their second group game of the ongoing U-17 World Cup.
But, the Colombians struck almost immediately on the counter to restore the lead, leaving the 46,000 turnouts at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium teary-eyed.
"It was a case of bad luck," Amarjit said.
Had India held on, it would have been one unforgettable moment for Amarjit too, as skipper of the team.
"I am feeling very proud that he scored the country's first goal in a World Cup," Amarjit said of his first cousin who broke into the team just six months ago.
They are mid-fielders and have been playing in that position since the time they were introduced to the sport at their Haokha Mamang village in Manipur's Thoubal district.
Amarjit repeated the luck factor on a day India hit the framework once, besides coming very close to scoring on another occasion in the first half. Midfielder Rahul Kannoly was the unfortunate boy in blue, then.
"It was bad luck because the ball hit the post too in the first half."
It was a much-improved outing by debutants India, three days after being thrashed 3-0 by USA in their opening Group A encounter.
Asked to compare the two games, Amarjit said, "USA was first game for everyone in the U-17 World Cup, playing in front of so many people was a very different experience.
"For the next game we knew how the atmosphere was going to be in the ground."
Summing up the experience of playing in the the first two matches, the skipper said, "It was a great feeling because not everyone gets to experience this. Every player dreams to play the World Cup. I have realised my dream. The result was not good but we gave our 100 percent."
Growing up in a football-crazy state in a remote corner of the country, Amarjit had dreamt of donning the national colours since his childhood.
In the four-nation tournament in Mexico before the showpiece, India's Portuguese coach Luis Norton de Matos used Amarjit and Jeakson in two of the three international friendlies.
Having played together for so long, both have developed a good understanding.
Ranjit Rana, technical advisor at I-league club Minerva FC, with whom Jeakson is employed, was at the venue to witness his ward's moment of glory.
"You can play him in any position. He has got quick vision, his head work is great, his first touch is good and he runs like a lion," Rana said of the player.
Jeakson's association with Minerva FC started when he was drafted into their U-14 side under former India international Harjinder Singh.