Indian football juniors ready for tough AFC challenge, says coach

Tabriz (Iran), Sep 15 (IANS) Indian junior football team coach Nicolai Adam believes his boys will give a good account of themselves despite facing a tough battle at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-16 qualifiers which begin here from Wednesday.

India are in Group E with hosts Iran, Bahrain and Lebanon. They play their first match against Bahrain on the opening day.

The qualifiers will decide the 16 participating teams of the 2016 AFC U-16 Championship, to be hosted by India, which enabled them to qualify automatically — they are nevertheless competing in the qualifiers.

The Indian team consists of several footballers who are also part of the U-17 squad. India will also host the U-17 World Cup in 2017.

Speaking about the team’s upcoming clashes, Adam said: “It’s not an understatement but for sure we won’t be starting as the favourites in the match (against Bahrain). We will do our best and I can only say that it won’t be easy to beat us.”

“We have done our job and prepared the boys well for the different scenarios that might come. We have different match plans and it’s now up to the boys to bring it to the pitch.”

Asked about Iran as an opponent, Adam said: “Iran are one of the teams which will stay in contention to qualify for the U-17 World Cup. So if they qualify for the U-17 World Cup in 2017, we may not meet them again in the group stage.”

“But the quality of Iran is something which we are looking to play against. It is that kind of calibre which we will have to deal with regularly in the future and it’s something we are looking forward to.”

Prior to this tournament the Indian team had a few weeks of training in Germany and the coach feels the stint was extremely helpful.

“The stint in Germany was extremely helpful. We played 14 matches, won eight of them, lost four while two ended in draws. But it wasn’t just about getting good match experience.”

“The whole setup there was good for us as we trained every day, sometimes even twice a day. Add to that the food was good and it was an entirely professional environment. Unfortunately, you don’t find it everywhere,” Adam said.

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