India U-16 National Team Head Coach Bibiano Fernandes feels it’s better to go all out for victories in practice matches rather than playing safe. A day prior to India U-16 second friendly match against U-16 Malaysia, Fernandes spoke at length about the strength of the Malaysian National Team, losing three matches on the trot, plugging the gaps at the back and much more.
What was your assessment of the Malaysian National Team?
Malaysia play counter-attacking football and the players are individually good on the ball. We did not start well in the first-half. However, in the second half we dominated but conceded goals on the counter as we pushed hard for the equaliser. There was desire and our boys gave everything to win but Malaysia did well to hold on.
We have been conceding late goals in every match now? Why do you believe it’s happening?
These being friendly matches it is always better to go all out for a win than play safe and lose by just one goal. In all the recent matches that we have conceded late, we were trying to win games and by doing this we are getting ready for every kind of challenges we might face at the AFC U-16 finals. Even in the last game, we tried our best for the equaliser but conceded a goal due to a lack of concentration from one of our defenders. We are working even harder now to find solutions to get back to winning ways.
How do you plan to mend the habit of conceding late goals?
Even as we are finding solutions to conceding late goals, we are also working hard on our finishing. Every match we have been creating numerous chances and if we are able to convert them, I think it can make all the difference.
The team has for the first time lost three matches in a row. Is that a concern?
Yes, it is disappointing that we lost these matches on the trot. But I wish to stay positive and I am happy with the performances the boys have put in all these matches. We have created many goal-scoring chances and once our boy’s regain their scoring form and start converting these chances, then trust me, there will be no stopping this team.
The present U-16 batch has had an unprecedented exposure, courtesy AIFF and SAI. Where has your team benefited from it?
We need to thank SAI and AIFF for helping us in the wonderful preparation. Furthermore, our National Team Director Abhishek Yadav has worked out all the schedules to perfection and planned for us.
All the exposure tours, friendly matches and tournaments we play is a part of the process to get ready for Malaysia in September. And all these wins and defeats only make us stronger as we have been improving every day. We are not far away from achieving our goal we had set long before – qualifying for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. We believe in that goal and we believe we can achieve it as well.