The India U-16 Boy’s National Team is set to travel to Tajikistan to play two international friendlies against the Tajikistan U-16 side next month. The team, that has been training in Goa since December last year, is set to take-off for Tajikistan on Thursday, March 5.
Head coach Bibiano Fernandes believes that although the team has been training three months now, it is essential for them to get some international matches under their belt, as they look to prepare for the AFC U-16 Championship later this year.
“Last year was a brilliant one for us and this team, and we ended our qualification campaign on a high. But now, it’s all about ensuring that the progress these youngsters have been making keeps happening,” Fernandes said. “We have been training in Goa since December, and it is now time for these boys to get a feel of playing against quality international oppositions once again.”
The U-16 team produced some brilliant performances, going on an eight-match unbeaten run – seven victories and a draw – in international football (SAFF U-15 Championship and AFC U-16 Championship Qualifiers).
Fernandes feels that playing against the runners-up of the 2018 AFC U-16 Championship will give the coaching staff a good estimate of where the team stands, as they prepare for the big tournament that’s coming up in seven months.
“It’s very important for the boys to regain their match fitness as we get the squad ready for the AFC U-16 Championship in September. Tajikistan has a good culture of football, and we hope that these boys will get to learn new things in the matches,” said Fernandes. “To top that off, the Tajik side finished runners-up in the 2018 edition of the AFC U-16 Championship. I’m sure my boys will give a good account of themselves in the matches.”
The gaffer further went on to praise the All India Football Federation’s efforts in arranging friendlies against top-notch opposition as preparation for the AFC U-16 Championship.
“Our Federation has really helped us a lot, in terms of providing us with the facilities to improve the conditioning of the team and I feel, arranging these matches in Tajikistan will be a further step towards getting the team ready for the challenges that lie ahead,” Fernandes rounded off.