India Under-16 football team head coach Bibiano Fernandes is optimistic about India’s chance in the AFC U-16 in Bahrain later this year despite the Indian colts finding themselves in a tough group. He said that the experience from 2018 would help him lead the boys better this year.
In a live chat with AIFF TV, Bibiano said: “I was following the draw live but I did not keep any expectations for it. When I saw our group, I told myself that my team has already given a good account of themselves in qualifiers. I believe from the bottom of my heart that these boys can perform against the countries in the group.”
India were clubbed with South Korea, Uzbekistan and Australia in Group C in the draw that was held at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Thursday this week. In the last edition in 2018, India had lost to South Korea in the quarterfinals by solitary goal wherein a victory would have earned them a slot in the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
However, Bibiano dismissed notions about the match against Korea Republic to be a ‘revenge match’.
“It looks like that — doesn’t it,” he laughed. “But Korea will also think on the same lines. What’s important at this stage is how soon we can get back to training. The boys need to hit the right chords before the tournament starts.”
“There are so many things you can learn. The way you look at the tournament and change your approach is one of them. We learnt from our experiences from 2018 and have hence, changed and instilled the learnings while scouting these boys, and also in training.”
With all footballing activities in India under the aegis of AIFF staying suspended and with the subsequent lockdown from March onwards (for over a month) having forced all to stay indoors, Bibiano has been in touch with the boys via online sessions.
“It’s been difficult for the world. Everyone is finding their way to cope up. I know a few countries who have already started training. We have been in touch with the boys via online sessions — thrice a week — strength, goalkeeping, ball mastering session. We have watched U-16 matches and have been analysing and discussing with the boys,” he informed.
With IANS inputs