India U-19 National Team will face Kyrgyz Republic in the 9-12th position playoff match of the XXXI Granatkin Memorial Tournament at Turbostroitel tomorrow, June 11. After suffering two back-to-back losses against hosts Russia and Moldova respectively, Floyd Pinto’s boys dished out a sturdy display to snatch a 1-1 draw against Bulgaria yesterday, June 9.
On being asked to review his team’s opponents in the playoffs, Pinto stated that facing an Asian team is always advantageous as it’ll help the team test themselves before the continental qualifiers.
“Facing an Asian team like Kyrgyz Republic would always be advantageous for us as it’ll give us a better idea about our preparation so far and how much we have improved since we started. It’ll be a good marker going into the AFC U-19 Championship qualifiers.”
In the final match of the group phase, India conceded an early goal from an own goal by Muhammed Rafi but came back strongly through a superb header from Akash Mishra to restore parity.
Pinto analysed, “Taking it forward from the Moldova game, we were not happy how we started against Bulgaria. We felt we shouldn’t give the opponents an opportunity to settle down. We continued to press them and dominate the possession. After we conceded the first goal, we were able to settle down and dominate the game.”
Meanwhile, India scored one goal apiece against Moldova and Bulgaria from set-pieces and Pinto revealed that they have been “working religiously on set-pieces.”
“We have been working religiously on set-pieces. Throughout the tournament, we have created more chances from set-pieces. We scored two goals against Moldova from set-piece although one was disallowed. It worked for us against Bulgaria too with Akash scoring a brilliant goal from the corner,” the 33-year-old coach explained.
He continued, “Before the Bulgaria game, we had a couple of training session. We worked on how to press the opposition so that they don’t get the chance to play their natural game. We worked on moving the ball effectively and trying to progress with every move that we make on the pitch but not keeping only the passage possession. We were able to do that against Bulgaria, we pressed them.”
Harmanpreet came agonisingly close to score the winner in the dying minutes of the game but the Bulgarian goalkeeper thwarted him.
“They started well but as the game went on, we improved our pressing and started creating more chances. Had we been able to convert those chances, we could have gotten all three points,” Pinto rued the missed opportunity.
The coach maintained, “The boys have shown improvements and they have shown that they can match stride by strides with those European nations. We just need to keep up the momentum and surely, results will follow.”
The match will kick-off at 02:30pm IST and will be streamed live on the official Granatkin Memorial website (https://www.granatkin.com).