The India U-19 National Team hit the right chord at the right moment having won three games against Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Tahiti to finish first in the Oceania Development Tournament. The team is next slated to play in the SAFF U-18 Championship next month in Nepal. The team conceded just a solitary goal in three matches, that too from the penalty spot, while scoring seven. However, coach Floyd Pinto feels no one’s place is guaranteed in the team. He considers a core team has been built ahead of the busy schedule which includes AFC U-19 Championship qualifiers later this year. In an exclusive chat with AIFF Media, Pinto shares his experience in Vanuatu, the plans for the SAFF Championship, the bench strength, and much more.
How big is this result in Oceania Development Tournament ahead of the SAFF Championship?
We aimed to solidify our playing philosophy and with these three tough wins, we managed to do that. The oppositions in SAFF Championship follow a similar style of play to these countries who we played in this tournament. This is a huge bonus for us. Now, we will look to continue this winning momentum to SAFF and keep the winning habit unscathed.
What are the biggest positives from this tournament?
We have played some quality football and after these three wins, we’re confident of manoeuvring according to the demand. Most importantly, we have got a core group of players who are combining well. We have a bench who has the hunger, and are confident of making an impact at any given time. The new-found confidence will help us approach the SAFF Championship with more positivity.
Two clean sheets in three matches – have you gotten stability in defence?
The boys have to earn their places and they have to be consistent in every training session and upcoming games. Meanwhile, Amarjit and Narender will join the team as well which will only raise the bar as far as competition for places is concerned.
Which areas would you still need to work on?
There are always areas where we can improve and we have to keep ourselves open-minded to learn. What’s more important is the focus & determination of the boys to keep pushing their limits. As long as we can concentrate and execute our plans accordingly, we can reach greater heights.