The Indian gaffer also revealed that his side’s “gameplay, performance and intensity” have improved.
The India U-19 team is currently in Serbia on an exposure tour and will take on their Serbian counterparts in a second friendly on Monday, which will be held at the Technical and Training Centre of the Football Association of Serbia at Stara Pazava.
The first friendly, which took place on Thursday, saw the Indians go down fighting to the hosts 2-0 despite creating a number of chances and dominating proceedings for a large portion of the game. However, they were unable to find the back of the net and were made to pay by a clinical Serbian side that struck once in either half to clinch the win.
However, despite the negative scoreline, coach Floyd Pinto was happy with the way his charges played on the pitch. “I’m very encouraged by the way the team played today. We were quick to get forward when in possession, organized and confident to press higher up the pitch,” he said.
After conceding via a penalty in the first half, the Indian side upped the ante in the second and created a number of chances, with Aniket Jadhav, Amarjit Singh and Jeakson Singh all coming close to equalising. “The entire second half was played in the Serbia half, owing to the amount of pressure our boys exerted on them on and off the ball,” said Pinto.
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He added, “We created so many chances and that is a very good sign going forward. It is just a matter of time we get our act together in front of goal. We have been working on various aspects of our game and the boys have been learning and delivering in training and games. The only thing missing is goals and I’m sure they will come in due time.”
After a confident start, the Boys in Blue were dealt a heavy blow as left-back Akash was substituted off the pitch in the first 10 minutes due to injury. “It was unfortunate to lose Akash so early on. He has been a consistent performer for us at left-back. Having been drafted into the squad only a month ago, he has impressed the staff and players with his intensity and consistency in his performances.”
With the second game on the horizon, Pinto reiterated the importance of playing opponents such as Serbia. “The key positives are the games themselves,” he said. “We are very fortunate to be playing such high-calibre opposition on a regular basis. We have the AIFF and SAI to thank for that. Although results have not gone our way, our levels of gameplay, performance and intensity have gone up quite a few notches, which will hold us in good stead when we play back home.”