India clubbed with Iran, Vietnam and Indonesia in AFC U-16 Championship finals

India will be making its third appearance in the AFC U-16 finals in the last four editions.

India had qualified as second-best team from the AFC U-16 qualifiers in Nepal 2017, where the team had held defending champion Iraq to a 0-0 draw in its last group match.   -  Twitter @IndianFootball

India has been clubbed with the Islamic Republic of Iran, Vietnam and Indonesia in Group C of the AFC U-16 Championship Finals, which is scheduled to be held in Malaysia in September 2018. This is India’s third qualification to the AFC U-16 finals from the last four editions. The official draw for the Championship was held at the AFC headquarters on Thursday.

India had qualified as second-best team from the AFC U-16 qualifiers in Nepal 2017, where the team had held defending champion Iraq to a 0-0 draw in the last group match. In its other two matches, India had accounted for Palestine 3-0, while it was held on to a 2-2 draw by host Nepal.

The tournament will be held in Kuala Lumpur from September 20 to October 7, 2018. However, the official match dates haven’t been announced as yet.

 

The last edition of the AFC U-16 finals was held in Goa in 2016 and Asian Football Confederation’s General Secretary, Dato Windsor John, heaped praise on the success of tournament. “The AFC U-16 championship has a long and a broad history. The last edition in India was not only a huge success on the field but it is also regarded as the defining moment for Football and youth development in the country,” he said in his address.

Reflecting on the draw, Indian Head Coach Bibiano Fernandes said that the team will “take one match at a time.” “We have been drawn against some of the best youth teams in the region. We respect our opponents. But we will take one match at a time. The aim of all the participating teams is to make it to the semi-finals,” he stated.

As per the norm, the four semifinalists will earn a ticket to the FIFA U-17 World Cup Peru 2019.

Bibiano felt the exposure tours being provided by AIFF for the team to prepare in the best possible fashion has been adding to the confidence of the boys. “The exposure tours have been a huge help. It is helping the team to gear up for the big challenge. We will aim to play to our strengths,” he maintained.

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