The Blue Colts are currently in spectacular form, having won the SAFF U-15 Championship in August.

Ahead of the AFC U-16 Championship Qualifiers opener against Turkmenistan, India U-16 head coach Bibiano Fernandes sounded optimistic about his side’s chances of qualifying for the continental tournament.

The Blue Colts have been clubbed with hosts Uzbekistan, Bahrain and Turkmenistan- one of the toughest groups from which to qualify to the final round. However, Fernandes sounded very optimistic at the press conference regarding India’s chance to progress to the main stage.

“We had a good preparation for this tournament and we have been working hard. We will try to play well in this tournament and qualify from the group. As we know, this is one of the strongest groups and we know each of these countries present are also working hard and it won’t be easy. But, we will try to play well and qualify from this group,” Fernandes began.

The Blue Colts have been in relentless form off late as they ran riot in the SAFF U-15 Championship, beating Nepal 7-0 in the final. They have won 11 matches on the trot, which also includes a 6-3 win over Turkish side Fenerbahce SK.

Speaking about India’s growth on the global stage in recent times in these competitions Fernandes said, “Yes, India has been doing well. The first thing for India was to change the coach education around the country, which has helped in producing good coaches than before.”

“As a team we have been working hard and we had a couple of good exposure tours as well. We know the level of the qualifiers, as every team will be 100% on that day as we know Bahrain, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. But, we will look to play well and qualify from this group,” he added.

The India U-16 team used the SAFF U-15 Championship as a platform to fine-tune the squad ahead of the AFC U-16 Championship Qualifiers, as the Blue Colts scored a whopping 28 goals in five matches, without even conceding once in the process.

Fernandes will be hoping that his boys replicate the similar form in Tashkent, when they face Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Bahrain, starting from Wednesday.