India colts training under ‘‘hostile conditions’‘ ahead of Vietnam clash in U-17 Asian Cup

On a rain drenched evening, the Indian Colts focussed on preparing for the U-17 Asian Cup at the Khoya Yai Sports Complex were confounded by sudden thunderous chants and jeers.

Published : Jun 14, 2023 17:41 IST , Khao Yai - 3 MINS READ



On a rain drenched evening, the Indian Colts focussed on preparing for the U-17 Asian Cup at the Khoya Yai Sports Complex here, were confounded by sudden thunderous chants and jeers.

The ‘hostile atmosphere’ did create a sense of confusion among the boys, whose attention drifted away from the training, albeit, momentarily.

The players soon realised the noise was, in fact, recordings of the infamous chants that the Vietnam fans use during matches, being played by the team’s staff through a speaker from the sidelines. It was a part of match simulation during the team’s training session.

On Saturday, India will begin their campaign in the AFC U-17 Asian Cup against Vietnam before taking on Uzbekistan (June 20) and Japan (June 23) in Group D.

In order to have the team prepared adequately, the coaching staff does not want to leave any stone unturned.

“We experienced Vietnam fans for the first time in 2018, and it was deafening to say the least,” said India U-17 head coach Bibiano Fernandes.

“It took some time for the boys to get used to playing in such hostile conditions, so we thought of preparing this batch from before,” Fernandes said.

“However, we also get decent Indian turnout in the stands wherever we go, so I am hoping that that will be the case this time around as well.” Indeed, the India U-17 head coach and his support staff experienced all this in the last edition of the competition, which was known as the AFC U-16 Championship back in 2018.

India had faced Vietnam at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in their opening match — something that they are set to do again, but in Thailand this time around.

It was an 86th minute penalty by Vikram Partap Singh that gave India the lead, and three points which eventually led them into quarterfinals.

“The drums were constantly playing, and their fans kept singing throughout the match. Their singing and chanting were only abruptly halted when we scored a goal, but overall, it was a new experience for the boys.

“We have 10 boys in our squad here in Thailand, who were not with us during the qualifiers, and it’s good that they know how to play under such conditions,” he said.

“So, when our analyst Mishal suggested this method of acclimatisation, we all agreed in unison that this is something that can be done,” Fernandes added.

Captain Korou Singh Thingujam was perplexed for a while when the training session started.

“I was completely taken aback. Once we started training, they suddenly started blasting the chants and jeers from these giant speakers beside the training ground, and it’s something we’ve never experienced before,” he said.

“These chants by the Vietnam fans were so loud and so intense that we found it difficult, at first, to communicate between ourselves on the pitch. But, I completely see the merit of doing something like this,” said Korou.

Goalkeeper Julfikar Gazi was one who seemed to revel under such conditions.

“I absolutely loved it. It gave me the feeling of playing a match in front of a hostile crowd, but it’s also fun when they jeer you, but you perform well,” said Gazi. “I felt the adrenaline in my veins when those speakers began to thump out the chants and drums.” Forward Lemmet Tangvah is one of the 10 new boys who were inducted into the India U-17 squad after the AFC U-17 Asian Cup Qualifiers last year, making this a completely new experience for him.

“I’ve never experienced playing under such conditions before. I think it was a brilliant initiative by our staff to get us to train under such conditions,” said Tangvah.

“They are always coming up with such innovative ideas to keep us on our toes, and we all really appreciate that.”

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