After scripting a memorable 2-1 victory over Argentina U-20 in the COTIF Cup in Spain, the India U-20 National Team returned to India earlier today, August 10 morning amidst fanfare.
“Every Indian should feel proud of the win,” Coach Floyd Pinto stated moments after landing in Delhi. “Not to forget, we also held U-20 World Cup runners-up Venezuela to a goalless draw,” he added. “The boys had put up a great performance against Venezuela and after that match, I said that they must raise the bar against Argentina.”
“The boys were extremely organised and focused. We got the goals at the right moments and the result was there for everyone to see.”
Skipper Amarjit Singh mentioned after Aniket Jadhav got the marching orders in the second half, they panicked a bit. “We were never in a mood to just sit back and defend. We were also up there to show our worth against the mighty Argentine side. But after we went one man down, we got into a tizzy. Then came the strike from Anwar and thankfully, we did it till the end,” a buoyant Amarjit explained with a broad smile.
Central Defender Anwar Ali revealed that there was no mystery behind the free-kick and it is something where he always puts an extra effort during the sessions.
“Scoring against Argentina was something amazing. I’ll always cherish that. I always love to hit the target from free-kicks and do practice during practice,” Anwar informed, only to add: “The most important part of the free-kick was that it earned us a win. Otherwise, it would have carried little significance and no one would have remembered it either.”
Coach Floyd Pinto expressed that he’s happy as “the team improved as the tournament progressed”.
“It was a great experience for us and I’m really happy that the team improved as the tournament progressed. I would like to thank AIFF and SAI for providing the boys with such an opportunity.”
“At the same time, it’s the vision of Mr. Praful Patel, Mr. Kushal Das and Mr. Abhishek Yadav that the youth teams should be competing against such world-class Teams across the world. I believe, COTIF Tournament is just the start,” Pinto added.
Central Defender Jitendra Singh who was a revelation all throughout stressed it was a “collective effort”.
“Not only did we work hard. We had to work collectively to get the job done. It was a great learning experience for us,” he maintained.
Goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Singh Gill admitted the team is now adept in dealing with “difficult conditions”.
“We have now learnt how to cope up with pressure at difficult conditions. We lost first two matches, then regrouped and drew with Venezuela and finally won against Argentina, that too after going down to 10-men. We have learnt how to react on difficult conditions,” he quipped.
Meanwhile, Aniket Yadav mentioned the positive vibes in the dressing room. “We were very much motivated before the game and there was a positive vibe in the dressing room,” he stated.
Sahil Panwar pronounced, “A win against Argentina will always be a memorable one and thankfully, I was part of this. Thank you all for your love and support.”
The Blue Pilgrims fan group were also present at the Airport to welcome the young guns.