India U-16 football team coach Bibiano Fernandes highlighted his players’ self-belief and ability to stage a comeback, after rounding off their campaign in the WAFF Championship in Amman, Jordan with a 3-0 rout of Yemen.
The tournament also included a historic 1-0 win over Iraq, the country’s first-ever against the current U-16 Asian champions.
“We have now learnt how to make a comeback and win games, especially after a defeat. We have been continuously believing in ourselves,” Fernandes said after India finished with nine points from four matches in the tournament.
“We had been conceding late goals in our previous matches in China, Thailand and Malaysia. The team was pushing hard for a winner in the dying stages but on this tour, we converted our chances leaving us in a much more comfortable position to defend and keep clean sheets,” the coach added.
The Indian colts conceded just two goals from their four matches and maintained clean sheets in the other three.
However, Bibiano said, “There is always room for improvement and we still have a lot of work to do.
“The hard-fought victory against Iraq was extremely special. The 93rd-minute winner is something that will stay with us. The biggest challenge now is to keep the team focused and hungry for success.”
The Indian colts made short work of Jordan 4-0 in their opening encounter and accounted for current U-16 Asian champions Iraq in what was any Indian national team’s first-ever win over Iraq in any format, before beating Yemen 3-0 in the last match.
However, India lost to Asian powerhouses Japan 1-2 in their other match.
The colts now proceed to Malaysia for the AFC U-16 Championship from September 20.
The 16 qualified teams in the AFC U-16 Championship have been divided into four groups of four teams each with the top two from each group advancing to the quarterfinals.
India has been clubbed with Iran, Vietnam and Indonesia in Group C.
The four semi-finalists get a direct ticket to the next edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2019.