July is set to be a busy period for India’s U16 squad with Bibiano Fernandes and his colts set to undertake a three-nation tour as part of their preparations for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U16 Championship to be held in September.
The month-long exposure tour will mark the final leg of India’s preparations for the continental event which will be staged in Malaysia.
As part of the three-nation tour, India will play a total of 10-12 friendly matches in which seven of them will be against national U16 sides.
The 25-member squad along with the coaching staff will depart for the tournament on Saturday from Kolkata where they have been training for the past five weeks.
After the four-nation tournament in China, India will depart for Thailand where they will take on the hosts along with two warm-up games against local legs. The team will then move on to Malaysia for the final leg of their tour where they will take on the hosts during their week-long stay in Kuala Lumpur.
“I am fortunate to have these group of boys, the majority of them being with me since U15 competitions. It has been an exciting journey for us over the last 14-16 months in preparing for AFC U16 final and I am happy to have got ample opportunities to test our mettle against quality opponents and different conditions to get the right balance in the squad,” head coach Bibiano Fernandes stated ahead of the month-long tour.
“We have reminded ourselves of our targets every time we have stepped on the field and the boys have worked towards it every single day,” he added.
All India Football Federation (AIFF) General Secretary Kushal Das also expressed his satisfaction at the team’s preparations over the course of the last year or so.
“These are interesting days for football in India. The Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports and Sports Authority of India (SAI) believes in the Indian football dream. Having invaluable support coming from the Sports Secretary and Director General of SAI made AIFF’s job much easier. It ensured our coach and the boys get the best of what’s needed to gear up for the competition,” Das stated.
“AFC competitions are never easy, but I am personally satisfied to see the team has come together well. As we set in for the final leg of our preparation, the July tour assumes importance with opportunities to play seven ties against China, Thailand, Malaysia & DPR Korea U16 national sides.”