India U-16 team chases history

Chasing history, the Indian U-16 team is gearing up for the AFC U-16 Championship finals. Under its head coach, Bibiano Fernandes, the team reached Malaysia 12 days prior to get acclimatized to the conditions.

The India U-16 team has been training in Malaysia for the last few days.   -  AIFF

Chasing history, the Indian U-16 team is gearing up for the AFC U-16 Championship finals. Under its head coach, Bibiano Fernandes, the team reached Malaysia 12 days prior to get acclimatized to the conditions.

No Indian team has ever qualified for the FIFA World Cup except by virtue of being hosts and the Indian U-16s look to script a historic footnote in Indian football by securing the semifinal spot in the AFC U-16 Championship Finals that will automatically confirm a spot in the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru.

With history beckoning, Coach Bibiano said, “The purpose of camping in Kuala Lumpur before the AFC U-16 Championship Finals was to give the boys a taste of the climate here. The boys had already been to Malaysia before for international friendlies, but we wanted them to be used to the climate before the tournament.

“We even booked the same hotel that we will be staying in for the AFC U-16 championship finals,” he informed.

“I need to thank the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, the AIFF General Secretary and the AIFF Director of National Teams to make this possible. It is of utmost importance that the team acclimatizes before the start of the Championship – be it the feel of the grass, the feel of the weather of the feel or the hotel.”

However, another reason behind the team’s early arrival is also of key importance. “We do not want the boys to get flustered and overwhelmed with emotion once the Championship starts,” Bibiano stated.

The Indian U-16 teams in its preparation for the AFC U-16 Championship Finals had gone on exposure tours of China, Serbia, Turkey, and even Malaysia among other nations, and had played the likes of Japan, Jordan, and Serbia.