After going down 0-5 to host Saudi Arabia in its opening encounter of Group D of the AFC U-19 Championship qualifiers, the Indian U-19 team gears up to face Yemen at the Prince Mohammad bin Fahad Stadium in Dammam on Monday.
Head of the Indian U-19s Luis Norton de Matos labelled the Indian team as a “work in progress” and in an exclusive chat to aiff.com , the Portuguese talked at length about the progress, India’s next opponent, Yemen, and a lot more.
How do you reflect on the 0-5 loss against Saudi Arabia?
We knew that Saudi Arabia is a very strong and the fact that they (Saudi Arabia) are hosts added to it. They played on a very high level yesterday and pressed very well to squeeze us out. Their midfield was very composed as compared to ours and we failed to keep possession.
Our team is a work in progress and we have some players who are 2001 born in the camp. We are focusing on building for the future. Exposing these players to high level international tournaments is very important in their development.
Where did India lack?
We lost the ball in transition and were unable to keep our defensive discipline when Saudi Arabia attacked. We also failed to keep the ball and complete our passess, they (Saudi Arabia) having a physically stronger side out-muscled us in almost every duel.
How do you rate India’s next opponent Yemen?
It will be a tough clash against Yemen as they are a side which are very quick on the counter-attacks. We need to rectify our mistakes and concentrate on the tomorrow’s match if we are to get a positive result. Yemen is a team which is on our level and we will search for a win against them. We believe that we can give Yemen a very stern fight.
Will it be a challenge for the team to recoup after a loss in the opening match?
The attitude of the players is fantastic and the boys are working hard in training. It will not be a challenge to recoup but at the same time, the loss against Saudi Arabia will help us to correct our mistakes. We have a young team and a young team must learn what International football is like, mentally recouping is also part of that process. It is important to lose to identify the problems and rectify them for better output.
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