AFC U-16 C'ship: India takes on Indonesia in pursuit of quarters berth

It was back in 2002 when India had last qualified for the quarterfinals of the AFC U-16 Championship, its best ever performance in the competition.

India is eyeing a first quarterfinal appearance in 16 years, at the AFC U-16 Championship in Kuala Lumpur.   -  AIFF Media Team

India's under-16 football team will take on Indonesia in its last group match in which a win or a draw would end a 16-year wait to make the quarterfinal of the ongoing AFC Championship here on Thursday.

It was back in 2002 when India had last qualified for the quarterfinals of the AFC U-16 Championship, its best ever performance in the competition.

Both India and Indonesia have four points from their two matches. But Indonesia sits atop Group C courtesy its superior goal difference.

A win or a draw against Indonesia will see India progress to the quarterfinal. A loss can also end in India progressing but only if the other match between Iran and Vietnam, which also kicks-off at the same time, ends in a draw.

Permutations and combinations aside, coach Bibiano Fernandes is looking for nothing less than a win to secure the progression.

"We always play for a win and we will do so against Indonesia as well. We know how the group stands and it would be favourable for us if we get the win and see ourselves through. We do not want to rely on other teams to do the job for us," Fernandes said.

"But it's not easy. Indonesia are an efficient team in attack and have swift forwards who bank on their pacy counter-attacks. We would have to be on our level best if we are to get the better of them" he added.

"This team (India U-16s) possesses a lot of quality and it is only a matter of time before everyone takes notice of us."

While India defeated Vietnam 1-0 in its opening match, Indonesia was held to a 1-1 draw by the team. Indonesia then defeated Iran 2-0 but India played out a goalless draw against the former champion.

"For Indonesia, the result against Iran was a very positive start and the same was for us against Vietnam. Against an Iran that was looking for nothing short of a win, we played out a draw and gained a point," Fernandes recollected.

"But football matches are not won on paper. On the field of play we are aware of the challenges that Indonesia will present and are ready to face them," he added.

With Korea Republic securing qualification on Tuesday as table-topper of Group D, India could possibly face the team in the quarterfinals if it finishes runner-up in Group C.

"It's too early to think that far. At the moment, we are just focussing on the match against Indonesia," Fernandes added.

  Dugout videos