The Blue Colts are in a group alongside Vietnam, Iran and Indonesia in the tournament.
The Indian U-16 side have finally landed in Malaysia to play in the AFC U-16 Championship. Bibiano Fernandes and his boys have trained extensively keeping this tournament in mind and now it is their turn to deliver the goods in Malaysia.
The Indian U-16 national team started their preparations back in 2017 when coach Fernandes led his boys to a dominant SAFF U-15 Championship victory in Nepal. The SAFF Cup win was followed by the qualifying tournament where the Colts finished second in their group, qualifying for the AFC U-16 Championships. India were clubbed in a group that had teams like Iraq, Palestine and Nepal.
This young Indian side has played in competitions all over the globe starting from the India-Egypt Friendship Cup, then the Jockey Cup in Hong Kong and also featured in several four-nation tournaments in Serbia, China and Jordan. The best feat that the Blue Colts achieve was clinching the runners-up spot in the WAFF (Western Asian Football Federation) U-16 Championship, also defeating Asian champions Iraq in the process.
Apart from playing the aforementioned tournaments, the young Indian side played several practice matches in India and abroad, including in Asian countries like the UAE, Thailand and Malaysia. Fernandes and his boys went to their latest exposure trip to Turkey, where they played against teams like Oman, Cameroon and club side Besiktas.
The team have more than a week to go before the tournament begins and with that time in hand, the Blue Colts will look to adapt to the conditions and circumstances in Malaysia. India are in a group with Vietnam, Iran and Indonesia in the tournament. While the whole country expects big things from the youngsters, a top-four finish will mean direct entry into next year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru.
The Colts will start their campaign on 21st September when they will play Vietnam, followed by Iran on 24th and finally Indonesia on the 27th September. The U16 side has shown the nation glimpses of their talent and senior team captain and talisman Sunil Chhetri said in a conversation that he thinks that the side is the best Indian side at the moment on the world stage. The statement has added an extra sense of pressure and responsibility on the shoulders of the lads as they seek to prove their mettle on the big stage.