AIFF youth programme reaping rewards, says U-16 boss

"Tapping on the talents across the nation and nurturing them rightly shows that we have a fool-proof strategy to scale the next level,” Bibiano reflected on a successful 2018 AFC U-16 qualifying campaign.

The U-16 team is placed in a favourable position to qualify for the AFC U-16 championship.   -  Special Arrangement

Having finished the 2018 AFC U-16 qualifiers campaign on a positive note, Bibiano Fernandes, head coach of the India U-16 national team hailed the AIFF for 'nurturing young talents' and supporting the youngsters 'living their dreams from a tender age.'

"The AIFF is doing a terrific work over the years and the academy is another example of its noteworthy jobs. Tapping on the talents across the nation and nurturing them rightly shows that we have a fool-proof strategy to scale the next level,” Bibiano commented on his way back home from Nepal.

The U-16 team which is now unbeaten in 12 matches (including practice matches and official matches) are in a favourable position to qualify for the 2018 AFC U-16 championship by virtue of finishing one of the five best second-placed teams across the continent and will be knowing its fortune only on September 29 when other U-16 qualifiers across other venues in Asia finish.

India finished its unbeaten campaign with 5 points from 3 matches, having drawn against host Nepal and defending champion Iraq and beating Palestine by a whopping 3-0 margin.

"Drawing against defending champions Iraq shows our boys' prowess and its temperament while contesting at the bigger stages,” Bibiano exuded. "I would like to thank AIFF for arranging the exposure trips to Egypt and Qatar, which have helped us immensely gauging our abilities and planning our strategies for the next matches."

He also praised the AIFF highly for the youth development programme which has been started a decade back and the young gaffer termed it as 'a brilliant initiative.'

"While congratulating the boys, we must not forget the AIFF's inputs to achieve this feat. As I'm being informed, finishing AFC U-16 qualifiers unbeaten hasn't been very common to us but we've done it this time. It rightly reflects how we're improving and I must say that we're actually reaping the benefits of years' rigorous youth development program which is nothing but a brilliant initiative, to say the least,” Bibiano said in one go.

"I really feel proud of my boys and they all have a bright future ahead. I foresee most of them playing for the India senior team in near future", Bibiano stated.

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