Why India U-20 team beating Argentina is no mean feat

The India U-20 football team's coach has said that victory over Argentina will earn India more respect.

India beat an Argentinian team with players who play in European league and for the likes of Boca Juniors.   -  Twitter @indianfootball

India beating football powerhouse Argentina 2-1 in the U-20 COTIF Cup on Sunday has grabbed the attention of fans, many of whom are hailing it as a giant-killing act. The Indian squad's coach, Floyd Pinto, believes this is a big moment. "This victory will definitely earn Indian football more respect in the world of football," he said on Monday.

His words will be music to the ears of Indian football fans craving for the country's rise in the football pecking order, but a reality check is in order. 

In May 2017, India's U-17 side defeated Italy 2-0 in the build-up to the World Cup at home. However, the buzz died a bit after it surfaced that the Italians had fielded a makeshift U-17 team. The team comprised players from Italy's third and fourth divisions, and did not have the same class as its first-choice team.

Read: Win against Argentina proof we're moving in right direction, says Floyd Pinto

At the COTIF Cup in Spain, Argentina had qualified for the semifinals, with three wins, before it met India on Sunday. Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni overhauled his entire starting XI for the match. India grabbed its chances. Even an experimental Argentine side is not to be trifled with.   

Scaloni, who played in the 2006 World Cup, has young talents from Argentina's first division football clubs in his 22-member squad. As many as 16 of the 22 are from Boca Juniors, Rosario Central, Estudiantes and San Lorenzo — clubs with high-level pedigree.

 

The U-20 squad's forward Facundo Colidio, who started against India, was picked by Serie A side Inter Milan for €7 million in 2017.

He racked up appearances in last season's UEFA Youth League.

Coach Scaloni is assisted by another former Argentinian World Cupper Pablo Aimar. The duo is also tasked with caretaking duties for the senior national team after Jorge Sampaoli's sacking following a disastrous World Cup campaign in Russia.

Despite being down to 10 men for nearly the entirety of the second half, India overcame Argentina with goals from Deepak Tangri and Anwar Ali on Sunday night.

Pinto and his boys would look to build on this win, which fans are hoping will prove a watershed moment in Indian football.

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