The Indian under-17 team, set to play in the AFC Asian Cup from June 17, will be looking secure a spot in the FIFA U-17 World Cup with a top-four spot in this tournament in Thailand, head coach Bibiano Fernandes told the press on Friday.
But one of its biggest challenges will be to help the mental condition of the boys, especially, with 10 of the 23 players hailing from Manipur, a state embroiled in violent clashes since early May 2023.
So far, according to The Hindu, over 100 people have been killed and thousands have been displaced in what largely has been a clash between the Meitei community against the other tribal groups, primarily, the Kuki community.
“We have been constantly in touch, talking every day with the boys and asking them about their families and their houses back home. What we can only do from here is show them love and care and support,” Fernandes said.
Korou Singh Thingujam, the captain of the team, also hails from Manipur. He led the Indian team in the Spain and Germany tour and scored thrice, including a strike against Atletico Madrid under-16 and an assist against Real Madrid under-17, with India winning the former and drawing the next game, earlier this year.
“From our side and of course, (with) what is at stake, we have been together for more than nearly one-and-half years and we know that what’s lying ahead of us is also important,” Fernandes said.
“But also, we show the support we from our side so that they are more comfortable and trying to help them you know in any way they will feel comfortable and will be focused for this competition.”
India is drawn in Group D with Japan, Vietnam and Uzbekistan, starting its campaign against Vietnam on June 17, followed by matches against Uzbekistan and Japan on June 20 and 23, respectively.
“The boys are really focused and they know why they are here and what is the objective of this Asian Cup. And they are more motivated – you can see that when they come for meals, you can see in their eyes, the way they talk,” Fernandes said.
“For them, it is important because this is the only chance at this age, they will get to achieve this World Cup qualifying and there is no other chance, so they know the importance of this competition and they are motivated.”
- India vs England Live Score Updates, 4th Test Day 3: ENG 137/8, leads by 183 runs; Foakes, Bashir frustrate IND
- Ranji Trophy Live Score 2024 Quarterfinals Day 3 Updates: Karnataka stumbles vs Vidarbha; Solanki smashes century vs Mumbai
- Yathiraj, Pramod and Krishna win gold medals at Para Badminton World Championships
- Fighting knock from fighter’s son: Dhruv Jurel walks in footsteps of father, a Kargil War veteran
- Gopi Thonakal wins elite men’s race in New Delhi Marathon