The tactician’s reaction came following the cancellation of the AFC U-16 Championship in 2021.

India U-16 head coach Bibiano Fernandes has expressed confidence in the abilities of his last batch of players and opined that they are capable of securing the future of football in the country.

The 44-year-old recently took to social media to praise the team. He also wished them good luck despite the cancellation of the AFC U-16 Championship which was scheduled to be held in Bahrain.

“You may have missed out on the opportunity to experience this level. But we know, you can go far beyond the level you achieved after qualifying for the AFC U-16 Championship as group winners and defeating the likes of UAE’s U-16 team, in our Dubai exposure,” Bibiano Fernandes wrote.

“Lots to look forward to in this group. You boys are the future who will take the Indian flag to its pinnacle. Wish you all a very safe and a bright future,” the tactician added.

In January, the Blue Colts beat UAE’s U-16 team 1-0 in a friendly. Substitute Sohail Ahmed Bhat found the back of the net from Taison Singh’s cross in the 79th minute. Prior to this, they qualified for the AFC U-16 Championship finals in September 2019. 

With identical 5-0 wins against Bahrain and Turkmenistan and a 1-1 draw against Uzbekistan, India managed to pick up seven points from three qualifier matches. They also finished as the table-toppers in Group B.

Earlier in 2019, the same squad, coached by Bibiano Fernandes also enjoyed a 11-match winning streak. However, in January 2021, AFC announced that they are cancelling the AFC U-16 Championship. The next edition of the 16-team competition is set to be held at Bahrain in 2023.

“We are grateful for the support of the hosts for these competitions who agreed with the AFC the need to safeguard the interests of all stakeholders during this time of uncertainty and taking into consideration the risks of the current pandemic,” AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John said during the announcement.

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