Fernandes hopeful for the future despite AFC U-16 loss

India U-16 boss Bibiano Fernandes felt that there is much more for India to look forward after an inspirational run at the AFC U-16 Championship that ended with a 0-1 quarterfinal loss to South Korea.

"The boys gave their hundred percent in the match. I am extremely proud of their performance. We have showed the world what India are capable of," Fernandes said.   -  Special Arrangement

India U-16 team coach Bibiano Fernandes is optimistic about the future of his team despite an exit from the AFC U-16 Championship after a narrow 0-1 loss to South Korea. Indian Colts put on a valiant display against South Korea, but a 68th minute goal from Jeong Sang-Bin denied India a chance to seal a historic qualification for the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup.

“The world hasn’t ended for us,” Fernandes said. “We go back and begin again. The U-16 Championship is over and it is time to look forward to the U-19 Championships. This was an experience and we go back enriched,” he stated.

“The boys gave their hundred percent in the match. I am extremely proud of their performance. We have showed the world what India are capable of. We pipped Iran in our group and finished ahead of them to qualify for the quarter-finals. The match against Korea proved that it wasn’t a fluke,” Bibiano added.

Read: Korea edges out India U-16 in the AFC Championship quarterfinals

Fernandes also thanked Indian senior team captain Sunil Chhetri for his encouraging words after the match. “Yes, he messaged me last night after the match,” the 41-year old said. “His support means a lot to us, specially the boys. They look up to him and when he has said that he is ‘the biggest fan,’ it's their biggest inspiration. A big thank you to him from all of us."

The Indians conceded just one goal in the 4 matches in the competition and it was conceded after 336 minutes of open play. However, Korea came into the game scoring 12 goals in 3 matches and Fernandes felt that a momentary lapse led to India's defeat.

“We know how strong a team Korea Republic were and we knew what they can do to us. We played our high pressing game with compact defending, but it was one moment where we fell complacent and Korea scored,” he admitted.

“But I am very proud of the boys,” he reiterated “This team has the potential to go a long way and it is evident with the results that the team has delivered. It is never easy to play Korea Republic nor Iran, but this team showed that not only we can give the likes a hard time but aim for a win,” he quipped.