India is set to kickstart its qualifiers for the AFC U-17 Asian Cup 2023 on October 4 against Maldives.
Being clubbed against the likes of Kuwait (October 6), Myanmar (October 7), and Saudi Arabia (October 10), the expectations are high that Bibiano’s boys will follow the footsteps of the last two batches and qualify for the AFC U-17 Asian Cup (formerly known as the AFC U-16 Championship).
“We have put together a good squad of players over the last year, I consider ourselves the underdogs, purely because we are largely untested at this level of competition, but the important thing is that the boys are motivated for these matches and we hope that we can get the results.” said Bibiano Fernandes.
India has the second-best record amongst the Group D teams, having had eight successful qualification campaigns for the AFC U-17 Asian Cup, with its best result coming in 2002 and 20018, when they made it to the quarterfinals.
India will face some stiff competition from host Saudi Arabia, which has played the main competition 10 times and won it twice (1985 and 1988).
Amongst the other teams, Kuwait has qualified five times, and made it to two quarterfinals (2004 and 2012), and Myanmar has qualified four times, but has never managed to make it past the group stage in the tournament proper. Meanwhile, Maldives is yet to have a successful qualifying campaign in this age group.