The former India international opines that India can still progress to the quarter-finals in spite of being drawn against tougher opponents…
India were drawn into a tough group which consists of South Korea, Australia, and Uzbekistan during the official draw of the AFC U-16 Championship Bahrain 2020 which was held at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday afternoon.
Although the Blue Colts had a scintillating run in the qualifiers where they remained unbeaten, they will need to break a sweat to get the better of heavyweights South Korea and Australia.
But Henry Menezes, the deputy chairman of the Technical Committee of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), has put his weight behind the boys and thinks that Bibiano Fernandes’ boys have the quality to shine at the continental stage.
“It is a good combination (the draw). We have the best breed of players in the U16 team, led by a very able coach in Bibiano Fernandes. We should now give them the confidence to perform well at the highest stage. They have done well in the exposure tours. There is a good outside chance that we can progress to the knockouts.
“We need a bit of luck in the quarters, but on our given day we can challenge the best team. The competition is in November and I think if we get two good months of practice we will be ready for the tournament,” the former goalkeeper told Goal.
In the qualifiers held in September 2019, India had drawn against Uzbekistan 1-1. Fernandes’ men took the lead after the hour-mark but shipped in a late goal to share the spoils.
South Korea was in a brilliant run of form in the qualification stages as they not only won all the matches but also did not concede a single goal in three matches. Australia had also emerged victorious in all the matches but conceded just two goals.
The marquee tournament will start on November 25 in Bahrain.