Eleven Indian Arrows players were named in the national squad for the match against reigning Asian Cup Champions Qatar in Doha on Monday ahead of the AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers.
AIFF’s developmental side, the Indian Arrows, have notched up some bright results in the I-League, including a win against Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan and India U-23 coach Derrick Pereira is aiming to build his team around them.
“They are our future. It’s not only about the match against Qatar or the U-23 Championship qualifiers. We should have a long term plan for them so that they can excel in future,” Pereira said.
“The experience of representing the nation in the U-17 FIFA World Cup would help them improve on and off the pitch. If they are provided with the right kind of experience and exposure regularly, Indian football will go a long way,” he added.
Incidentally, India faced Qatar in the AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers in the previous edition.
Almoez Ali, who broke Ali Daei’s record of scoring the highest number of goals in a single edition of AFC Asian Cup recently, had scored the solitary goal for the Gulf nation to pip India.
“We are primarily focusing on finding the right combination and our style of game. Uzbekistan are the reigning U-23 Asian champions and Tajikistan are a respectable side as well who we’re going to face in the qualifiers. We can gauge ourselves after the Qatar game and as I’ve said, we’ll focus more on our game rather than our opponents,” Pereira said.