Football coaches believe youth in right direction ahead of AFC Championships

India U-15 women's national coach Firmin D'Souza and India and U-16 men's national coach Bibiano Ferandes are back to the drawing board ahead of the AFC Championship in Malaysia.

India U-15 girls beat the defending champion Bangladesh in the final.   -  AIFF

After conquering the SAFF U-15 Championship with a 1-0 won over Bangladesh in the final, India U-15 Women’s National Team head coach Firmin D’Souza has wasted little time and is back to the drawing board for the AFC U-16 Championship Qualifiers in September.

"Our primary goal is to qualify for the AFC U-16 Championship finals, and the girls know that. Winning the SAFF Championship is one-step in the right direction towards that goal," said D'Souza.

But she stressed that the job was not done yet. "The job is far from over and we have to buckle up and work even harder, if we are to securing qualification. The players have already shown that they are capable of doing that, but the AFC qualifiers will be another challenge that we have to prepare ourselves for," she said.

Bibiano sees significant improvements

Currently in its last exposure tour prior to the AFC U-16 Championship Malaysia 2018, Bibiano Fernandes, India U-16 National Team Head Coach says the team has “improved significantly” since the time the boys played the qualifiers in Nepal.

"The experience has been massive for us. Those matches have helped us learn and assess ourselves before the next one (match) arrives our way. We have improved significantly since the time we played the qualifiers in Nepal and we have proved it several times.

"We are working hard day in and day out on the ground and we are striving to attain the success. This exposure trip is the last opportunity to test ourselves before the AFC Championship and we won't let this opportunity go. Over the last months, we have been in a constant process of learning and improving simultaneously and we are ready to challenge others in Malaysia," said Fernandes.

India U-16 National Team currently on a week-long exposure tour in Istanbul will play a friendly game with Cameroon U-16 National side on Wednesday, August 22.

India played its first friendly match on the tour against AFC U-16 Qualified team Oman on Monday, 20th August 2018, losing 1-2.

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