SAFF U-15 C'ship final: Favourite India takes on 'improved Nepal'

India U-15 and Nepal U-15 football teams faced off in the opening game of this year's SAFF Championship, where India cruised to an easy 5-0 win, but things have changed since then.

The India U-15 side has scored 21 goals in four games in the tournament so far, while its final opponent Nepal has scored 11.   -

A day prior to the SAFF U-15 Championship final between India and Nepal scheduled to be played at the Kalyani stadium in West Bengal, the coaches of both teams have preferred to be cautious.

Ahead of the big match, Indian U-15 national coach Bibiano Fernandes said: “I am happy and fortunate to have this set of players with me. The manner in which they have been working hard, and have stayed hungry in every match has been splendid. Himanshu has scored two hat-tricks in two consecutive matches. I just hope they continue the momentum.”

“The hunger in my team has been our driving point. In our match against Bangladesh, we rested some, and played the others. Now I am spoilt for choices,” he added.

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Bibiano’s opposite number Sunil Shreshtha spoke about India's dominance in the tournament. He also said how Nepal has improved with every given match in the tournament. The two teams last met in the opening match of the Championship, a match where India ran home winner 5-0.

“India are very strong in attack. They use the flanks well, and their strikers know how to handle the feed. They are also very fit, and their physical presence is something which we are wary of,” said Shreshtha.

“We hadn’t settled down in our first match. Since then, we have acclimatised ourselves. Obviously finishing has stayed a problem, but the manner the boys have responded in the last two matches have given us confidence. We have studied India’s style of play, and have a plan for India,” he stressed.

Bibiano also reflected the thoughts of the Nepal head coach by saying that the final will be an entirely different match.

“We never look back to the past, and take things for granted. Nepal have improving with every match. We have watched them, and know they can be extremely dangerous. They have been quite exemplary in their last two matches. So I am not reading much in our opening match victory,” the India coach said.

The India U-15 Football team next proceeds to Turkey for another exposure tour from where it directly goes to the AFC U-16 Qualifiers in Uzbekistan where it has been clubbed with Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Bahrain.

“This championship has been a great preparation for us before the AFC qualifiers. It has been a challenge to play against International teams in a centralised competition, and mind you -- every team has a different playing style,” Bibiano concluded.

The kick-off tomorrow is slated for 3pm, and will live stream the match.

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