The Maroons won their first ever AFC Asian Cup in UAE 2019.
The Indian National U-23 team, led by head coach Derrick Pereira, will play AFC Asian Cup champions’ U-23 side in a bid to prepare for AFC Championship 2020 qualifiers, to be held in Uzbekistan from 22nd March till 26th March 2019. All India Football Federation, earlier today, announced the list of probables for the Qualifiers.
It is reported that they will undergo two preparatory camps before flying to Uzbekistan. The camps will be set up in two phases, first from 2nd to 8th & the second between 16th to 19th March ’19, and a friendly against Qatar U-23 team. The friendly will be played on 11th March, in Doha.
Should India qualify from their tough group F, they will fly to Thailand to feature in the fourth edition of the AFC U-23 Championship in January 2019.
India have hosts Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Pakistan in their qualifying group. There are 11 groups in the qualifying stage and the winner of every group gets a pass in the final tournament. Adding to that, there are four more spots for the four best 2nd placed sides from those 11 groups.
India’s best finish came in 2010 when they went till the Round of 16 in China. They failed to qualify for the previous edition in Indonesia 2018. The upcoming set of fixtures will be a test for the young side, consisting of the likes of Anirudh Thapa, Lallianzuala Chhangte, with loads of experience.
Derrick Pereira will be the head coach of the U-23 Indian national football team along with Shanmugam Venkatesh as the assistant coach.
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Pereira stated that “it is an honour to be associated to with the National Team.”
“It’s an absolute honour to get associated with the National Team set-up. I love to take challenges,” he maintained. “I know most of the players and have seen them in action. But we need to find the right combination to perform and achieve the desired results,” he stated.
National Team Director Abhishek Yadav, also a former Indian National Team captain, said: “The experience of Derrick Pereira as a Coach will be important for our team. The preparatory camp will be followed by a practice match against Qatar U-23 which will be a huge test.”
Pereira stressed the challenge against Qatar will be “tough.”
“They are a quality side. I have a feeling that some of the U-23 boys from Qatar will be in their 2022 World Cup squad. It will be a tough challenge which will help us prepare for future assignments,” he explained.