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Tough task for India Colts as they gear up for AFC U-19 qualification

Although good preparations enhance the chances of good results, it will be a tough task for India Under 19 Colts for the qualifying event of the AFC Under 19 Championships in November 2017.

Story: Charles | D'Souza | 14th September 2017, 07:11 Hrs


Grouped along side Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and Yemen, India face a challenging task if they are to book a place in the AFC U-19 Championships in Indonesia.
"This bunch of boys have been together for two months now. Though a few of the boys are from the AIFF Academy in Goa, the majority come from various clubs. So the boys haven't played together and that concerns me," said Flyod Pinto, head coach of India Under 19 , taking on the sidelines of a training session at the SAG Artificial Turf Grounds,
"The preparations have been good and the boys have been understanding the needs of how we want to play. The goal was to work on the specifics which we did," stated Pinto.
But is the team prepared to take on Saudia Arabia, Turmenistan and Yemen in the AFC Championship? The Mumbai born coach said,"The team has made a lot of progress. But we know that the gap between these teams and India is big. It could only be reduced with more competitive matches which unfortunately are not there. So I won't say we will beat them in the championship, but the confidence has grown and I feel we can challenge them."
However, Indian colts coach feels no team is unbeatable. "Anyone can beat anyone on a given day. I have told my boys to be postive and give their best. This lack of competition made his team naive sometimes. It's very important to play competitive games. But we have no time now to think about that. That will give us match practice," said Pinto, adding: "We also have to look after the boys. We should not overburden them."
The Indian team had played two friendly games agianst Bengaluru FC, India Under 17 World Cup squad and Independence Cup. "I can say the boys are in good shape and results were postive for us. We also created some scoring chances but could't convert so that's a concern," he pointed out.
Ahead of the qualifiers, the Indian colts will participate in the SAFF Cup in Bhutan from September 18. Though the team should hardly face a problem against their South Asian opponents, their coach remained cautious.
"Two years ago too we went in as the favourites, won the semi-final on penalties and then lost to summit clash to Nepal. At this level it's unpredictable," added Pinto, when he was assistant to Syed Sabir Pasha. "We have watched some matches of Nepal. We need to be prepared for them and try to break them," Pinto states. "But they are a very good team comprising of some very talented players. But at the SAFF championship, we are planning to play every game as if we are playing Saudi Arabia. Whatever be the challenge, I want the boys to come up with a solution. These decisions need to be taken on the go and that's what I am expecting from the boys," Pinto stated.
The Indian colts coach chose Goa as the base for team training considering the football environs and good climate condition of the land.The Indian Colts also took the advice of Senior national coach Stephen Constantine on the rigours of Indian football.
"The Indian Colts take inspiration from Indian national team, Under 15 SAFF Championship teams and also the India Under 17 team which is playing for the first time in the FIFA World Cup and there will be a lot of emotion involved," he said.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka has withdrawn from the championship and the tournament will be played on a round robin league system. Defender Sahil Punwar is likely to be named as the captain of the U-23 member squad. The team will leave either on September 15 or 16 to Bhutan.

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