India reaches Nepal for AFC U-16 Qualifiers

Head-Coach Bibiano Fernandes remained optimistic about India's chances in the qualifiers despite the “tough draw."

Head-Coach Bibiano Fernandes waxed lyricals about AIFF's youth development programme saying it’s the “backbone of the National Team.”   -  AIFF Media Team

The India U-16 team landed in Kathmandu on Monday for the forthcoming AFC U-16 Qualifiers. India has been drawn with host Nepal, Iraq and Palestine in Group D.

Head-Coach Bibiano Fernandes said that despite the “tough draw,” the boys can make the cut if “we play to our potential.” India takes on Palestine in its first match at the Halchowk Stadium on September 20.

Meanwhile, Bibiano hailed All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) youth development programme. "The AIFF-run Academy has been the backbone of the National Team," he said adding,  "If you notice the current crop, more than 60% of the team are from the AIFF Academy which clearly underlines how successful the Academy project has turned out to be."

He didn't hesitate to mention that unlike other countries , India has academies which are run by the Football Federation and the clubs also should come forward to share the responsibility.

"I feel the clubs should start taking up more responsibility. If the clubs join hands with AIFF, the purpose will be served and the target will be attained,” he maintained.

The India U-16 squad:

GOALKEEPERS: Lalbiakhlua Jongte, Niraj Kumar, Manik Baliyan.

DEFENDERS: Sandip Mandi, Shabas Ahammed, Gurkirat Singh, Harpreet Singh, Samir Kerketta, Moirangthem Thoiba Singh, Lalrokima.

MIDFIELDERS: Lalchhanhima Sailo, Eric Remruatpuia Chhangte, Givson Singh Moirangthem, Aenam Graffenberg Jyrwa, Ricky John Shabong, Ravi Bahadur Rana

FORWARDS: Bekey Oram, Vikram Pratap Singh, Harpreet, Ridge Melvin Demello, Shanon Alexinho Viegas, Adarsh Rai Das, Subungsa Basumatary.