SAFF U-18 championships: India to take on Maldives in semis

After holding Bangladesh to a goalless draw, India accounted for Sri Lanka 3-0. Maldives knocked out defending champion Nepal to progress to the semifinals.

India registered a 3-0 win over Sri Lanka to progress to the semifinals.   -  AIFF

India will be keen to sustain the momentum as it takes on a 'strong' Maldives in the semifinal of the SAFF U-18 Championships in Kathmandu on Friday.

After holding Bangladesh to a goalless draw, India accounted for Sri Lanka 3-0 in its last group league match.

“It was a matter of getting into our playing style which we have been practicing in training sessions —  keeping the ball, good positioning, build-ups, high intensity, penetrations and the ability to create good chances. I am sure we will only get better as the tournament progresses,” head coach Floyd Pinto said.

“I am happy with the performance against Sri Lanka. But we need to replicate it every day to achieve the desired results. We would like to stay with our improvements in the semifinal against Maldives,” he added.

“We have seen Maldives play. They have been able get out of the group, and have knocked out hosts and defending champions Nepal. That speaks about their strength,” Floyd said.

“They have played two games, and conceded one goal. They are defensively robust and we feel they are physically and technically better than Sri Lanka. So it’s going to be a big challenge for us.”

“We would also like to take in consideration the weather conditions. The boys adjusted well to the slippery ground conditions in our last match and we are aware that our match may be shifted to an artificial turf if the ground is unplayable after the first semifinal.”

Gurkirat Singh, who scored a brace against Sri Lanka, informed that the mood in the camp is “very positive” ahead of the semifinal.

“As coach stated, we need to carry on and better ourselves. We are ready for the semifinals. We are aware it won’t be easy. But we will go in with a plan, and do our best to execute it.”

“We were aware of the challenge against Sri Lanka. They were tough, physical, and good at the set-pieces. We just kept on going, and were eventually rewarded,” he said.

The semifinal is slated to kick-off at IST 2.45pm.

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