Gearing up for the AFC U-19 Championship qualifiers later this year where the Indian U-19 National Team has been drawn into Group F alongside hosts Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, the Indian Colts have been sweating it hard in training. Coupled with exposure trips recently to Turkey where the Colts faced Oman and Jordan U-19s, and now participating in the OFC Youth Development Tournament in Vanuatu, Floyd Pinto’s boys are leaving no stone unturned in preparation.
They face Vanuatu on August 18 and ahead of the match, head coach Floyd Pinto talked to AIFF Media at length about the team’s preparation, the exposure tours, the team’s chemistry and much more.
How helpful have the exposure tours been?
The exposure trips helped us get valuable competitive games and it has helped us to narrow down on the players we think can perform at the SAFF Championships and AFC Qualifiers.
The boys have been up against European, West Asian and now Oceanic playing styles, something that will enhance their abilities to adapt when needed the most.
How do you assess your opponents in the OFC U19 Youth Development Tournament?
The teams in the tournament are very physical with an aggressive playing style. It will be a good set of games for the boys to further solidify our game plan, improve combinations & build a good team spirit heading into the official competition.
How is the team’s preparation for the AFC U-19 Championship Qualifiers?
Preparations for AFC are on queue and we have narrowed down on our core group. The OFC and SAFF tournaments will give a good idea how prepared we are going into the AFC qualifiers.
Some players in the U-19 Team have made their debuts for the Senior men’s team. How beneficial is that for the team’s chemistry?
It’s amazing to have Amarjit & Narender shuffle between Senior & U19 duties. They bring in leadership, maturity & quality that drives our team to play at a higher level. We are very thankful that the senior national team have been very supportive of our need for Amarjit and Narender, and we look forward to them playing an important role at the WC Qualifiers, SAFF & AFC.
The Indian Colts participate in the SAFF Championship next. What will be the goal for that?
SAFF has always been very competitive. We will make sure we are physical & mentally up for the tough games ahead.