Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, October 24
With the country’s budding footballers producing some impressive results in the recent past, India U-16 coach Bibiano Fernandes believes that his side will be able to match some of the best in the business in the coming years.
“We have been playing like a proper batch for a while now. I believe we have the most aggressive bunch of players. Physically, they are getting better and mentally they want to get involved in everything,” Fernandes said while emphasising his team’s success at the SAFF U-15 Championship and the AFC U-16 qualification round.
“Competition-wise, the gap is reducing at the youth level and I am sure in another five-six years we will have a much better team than what we have right now,” the coach asserted.
India beat Nepal 7-0 to win their third SAFF U-15 trophy in August, while they qualified for the 2020 AFC U-16 Championship after leading their group in the qualification round held in September.
India beat Turkmenistan and Bahrain with an identical 5-0 margin, while they held Uzbekistan 1-1 to lead group B.
Trainees from Chandigarh Football Academy (CFA) played a significant role in the junior team’s success and Fernandes, who was in the city for a two-day AIFF scouting camp at the Sector 42 Sports Complex, acknowledged the efforts made by the academy in filling up the Indian reserves.
It’s almost after two decades that such a camp was held in the city. “Yes, it took us a while, but for me, Punjab has always been among the best options when it comes to finding players,” said the coach.
“The CFA has a long history of producing international players and the system here is also streamlined to some extent. We feel good, when we get an already prepared player from here,” Fernandes added.
He also praised India senior coach Igor Stimac for investing his time in the juniors. “He (Stimac) and his support staff train our kids whenever they are free from national duty,” revealed Fernandes. “The most important thing he has done is that he communicates with me and Floyd Pinto (India U-19 coach) regularly. We know what he wants from us and it is a very positive sign,” he added.
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