India U-16 Head Coach Bibiano Fernandes highlighted the team’s “self-belief” after the U-16 colts finished their engagements in the WAFF U-16 Championship in Amman, Jordan.
“We have now learnt how to come back and win games, especially after a defeat. We have been continuously believing in ourselves,” he told www.the-aiff.com after India finished with 9 points from 4 matches in the tournament.
“We had been conceding late goals in our previous matches in China, Thailand and Malaysia. The team was pushing hard for a winner in the dying stages but on this tour, we converted our chances leaving us in a much more comfortable position to defend and keep clean sheets,” Bibiano maintained.
The Indian colts conceded just 2 from their four matches and maintained clean sheets in the other three.
However, Bibiano maintained “there is always room for improvement and we still have a lot of work to do.”
“The hard-fought victory against Iraq was extremely special. The 93rd-minute winner is something that will stay with us. The biggest challenge now is to keep the team focused and hungry for success.”
The Indian colts made short work of Jordan 4-0 in their opening encounter and accounted for current U-16 Asian Champions Iraq in what was an Indian National Team’s first-ever win over Iraq in any format, before rounding off Yemen 3-0 in the last match. However, the boys lost lead and match to Asian powerhouses Japan 1-2 in their other match.
The colts now proceed to the AFC U-16 Championship Malaysia 2018 to be played in Kuala Lumpur from September 20. The 16 qualified teams in the AFC U-16 Championship have been divided into four groups of 4 teams each with the top two from each group advancing to the quarterfinals. India have been clubbed with Iran, Vietnam and Indonesia in Group C. The four semi-finalists get a direct ticket to the next edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2019.