The Indian U-19 team will take on host Russia in the first match of the Granatkin Memorial Tournament in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.
India has been clubbed with the host, Bulgaria, and Moldova in Group A.
The 12 teams participating in the tournament have been divided into three groups, with Argentina, Armenia, Turkey, Greece, Iran, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan being some of the other participating teams.
The tournament is staged in memory of the first FIFA Vice-President Valentin Granatkin.
Head coach Floyd Pinto said that he would be using the platform to “give every member as much game time as possible.”
"We have travelled with an 18-member squad. Our primary target will be to give every member as much game time as possible. This is a fresh squad with a mix of the boys from Indian Arrows, boys from the U-16 team who had qualified to quarterfinals of AFC U16 Championship (in 2018), and a new group of boys who have made it through the trials," Pinto said.
India will play three matches in the group phase followed by two play-off matches depending on the group standings. The tournament will help India prepare for the AFC U-19 Qualifiers which are slated to be held later this year.
Floyd also felt that the boys “will be enjoying” the soothing temperatures in Saint Petersburg, the current temperature forecasts ranging from a minimum 8 degrees to maximum around 23 degrees.
"I am sure, the boys will love the weather,” Floyd maintained. Our primary lookout will be acclimatise as soon as possible, and play to our true potential,” the Coach expressed.
Rohit Danu, who was part of India’s U-23 squad for the AFC U-23 Qualifiers stated the “tournament will help all mature as players.”
"It's a very big tournament. It's nothing less than an opportunity for me as well as for the entire team to assess ourselves against quality opponents,” the 16-year-old quipped.
Sanjeev Stalin, who caught everyone's imaginations with his stunning curling free-kick in the AFC U16 Championship in 2016, felt that if the team plays to their true potential, it can overcome the tough challenges in the group.
"Football is a tough game. We know whom we are going to play against. But we have to believe in ourselves, and execute it on the pitch. We will try to play to our best, and overcome the challenges,” he said.
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