Hosts India qualify for U-16 AFC Championship on merit

New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS) Having got an automatic entry as hosts to the 2016 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-16 Championship, India have also qualified for the tournament after finishing second from their group in the qualifiers.

India defeated Bahrain (5-0) and Lebanon (6-0) at the tournament qualifiers, played at Tabriz City, Iran, to finish second in their Group E engagements on 6 points and in the process qualified as one of the second best placed teams from across the 11 groups, an All India Football Federation (AIFF) statement said on Tuesday.

AIFF’s technical director Scott O’Donell expressed happiness at the development.

“It is extremely satisfying that the boys have qualified in their own right for the AFC U-16 Championships next year. Credit must go to Nicolai (Adam) and his staff for preparing the boys so well.”

“The second half of the game against Lebanon was especially satisfying because we absolutely dominated, played some great football and scored some good goals. I was very proud of the boys and their performance,” Scott said in a release.

The colts had come into the qualifiers on the back of an exposure trip to Germany where they played against the youth teams of top German clubs.

India’s performances had also come in for praise from rival coaches in the qualifiers.

Abdulsaheb Abdulnabi, coach of the Bahrain U-16 team said after their loss, “India were strong in all departments and surprised and destroyed us on the field.”

Lebanese coach, Gholam Ghader had gone a little further and had stated: “India were the best team in the group. They were fitter and were better on everything, tactically much superior.”

Bahrain and Lebanon are ranked 112 and 132 respectively in the glbal rankings in comparison to India’s 155.

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