Coach Pinto wary off favourite tag ahead of SAFF championship

Speaking after a training session here on Saturday, Pinto said, "Two years ago too we went in as the favourites, won the semifinal on penalties and then lost the final to Nepal. At this level, it's unpredictable."

The U-19 squad is gearing up to play in the SAFF Championship in Bhutan starting from September 17.   -  Indian Football @Twitter



Despite the Indian under-19 football team carrying the tag of the favourite going into the 2017 SAFF Championship in Bhutan (September 17 to 27), coach Floyd Pinto sounded a cautionary note.

Speaking after a training session here on Saturday, Pinto said, "Two years ago too we went in as the favourites, won the semifinal on penalties and then lost the final to Nepal. At this level, it's unpredictable."

"The problem we are facing now is lack of match time. This group hasn't played enough to say 'we will win SAFF,'"

The real test, Pinto felt, will be the AFC U-19 Championship qualifying stage, scheduled to be held in Saudi Arabia from October 31 to November 8. India has been grouped alongside the host, Yemen and Turkmenistan.

"At the SAFF, we are planning to play every game as if we are playing Saudi Arabia. Whatever be the challenge, I want the boys to come up with a solution. These decisions need to taken on the go and that's what I am expecting from the players."

On Friday his wards played a practice game against a senior Bengaluru FC side and narrowly lost 1-0.

"BFC was the toughest team we have played thus far," Pinto said. "The result was a positive for us. We also created some chances but couldn't convert. That's an area of concern."

The side will take on the Indian under-17 team, which is preparing for the World Cup in October, in another friendly on Sunday.

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