India kicks off on Saturday, June 20 with Uzbekistan and three days later with Japan. India’s group games will be played in Pathum Thani, almost 60 kilometers from Bangkok.
Fernandes spoke with the confidence of a head coach who has been there. In 2018, the last time the teenage competition was held – the 2020 competition had to be canceled because of the Covid-19 – Fernandesz’s team ranked in the top eight in Asia. India played to scoreless draws against China and Iran, defeated Vietnam 1-0 thanks to a Vikram Pratap Singh penalty, and then lost 0-1 to South Korea. The only time India had made it this far was in 2002, where they were knocked out again by South Korea.
If India follows their head coach’s instructions this time as well, they will be one step away from winning to qualify for the Under-17 World Cup, to be held from November 10 to December 2. The host country has yet to be determined after FIFA revoked Peru’s right to host the tournament last April for failing to meet its obligations to build the infrastructure needed to host the tournament.
Uzbekistan beat South Korea in qualifying, Vietnam kept a clean sweep en route to the finals, and Japan is the reigning champion, but at this level, reputation matters the least. You never know which generation of players will break through, Fernandes said. We’ve been watching Uzbekistan, Japan and Vietnam. If we look at our results in Europe, it will give us confidence, motivation and faith in ourselves. We are not an easy team, Fernandes said, speaking on the Hindustan Times Kicks For Free soccer podcast.
Including matches against Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and FC Augsburg, India played 10 friendlies in Spain and Germany in April and May. They beat Atletico Madrid’s Under-16 team 2-1, but lost to the Under-17 team 1-4. India drew 3-3 with Real Madrid’s under-17 team and beat FC Augsburg 3-1.
Fernando Torres, who is now the head coach of Atletico Madrid’s under-19 team, came to Madrid for training. It was a big moment for the guys and for us on the coaching staff, Fernandes said.
Preparations for this tournament began in February 2022, said Fernandes, a former senior national team coach who has been associated with Indian youth teams for more than six years. According to him, since the miThere are no youth leagues in Covid, and players were selected after open tryouts in various divisions of the state. The plan was to have the main team ready by May. That was done, India won the SAFF Under-17 championship and began preparing for the Asian qualifiers in Saudi Arabia.Arabia. India advanced to the finals, finishing second behind Saudi Arabia.
Considering they hardly played and didn’t have enough game management skills, the guys deserve credit, Fernandes said. When the youth league resumes in 2021-22, Fernandes selected 10 players who are in Thailand but have not played in the SAFF or qualifiers. To compensate them for their lack of tournament play, Fernandes said training was like a match, and every game in Europe was played with a purpose. The game in Augsburg was our quarterfinal.
The squad has players from all over India, but 10 of the 23, including skipper Koru Singh, are from Manipur. One of them, Tanglalsun Gangte, had a relative killed in ethnic violence. We’ve talked to them, and their families are safe for now, Fernandes said. The head coach said the staff reminds the players of what they’ve accomplished, the work they’ve done over the past 16 months, most of which they’ve trained in Goa. Now we’re so close, we can’t put our hands down.
If India doesn’t make history, the lineup will be disbanded after the finals. Getting into the under-19 national team would have been a natural progression, but the lack of games after that has often hindered their development. The first thing they want is to get into the ISL. Which, in my opinion, is not a good idea, Fernandes said. His advice: join a club in the I-League, even the second division, and get competitive games. They should invest in getting playing time, not just signing a contract with a club, he said.