The U-16 Indian national team, under the tutelage of Bibiano Fernandes, came very close to qualifying for the 2019 U-17 World Cup to be held in Peru when they reached the quarter-finals of the 2018 AFC U-16 Championship in Malaysia.
The 1-0 defeat South Korea in the quarterfinals spelt the end of that dream for the talented youngsters.
"We were really sad that we could not qualify (for the U-17 World Cup). We all thought that we could. We were just about there," the head coach told Goal.
Bibiano Fernandes feels the performance of his players will come as a boost to Floyd Pinto's India U-19 side which will be partaking in the 2019 AFC U-19 Championship qualifiers. He feels the players now believe India can qualify for a World Cup on merit.
"I feel that since the U-16 group has done well, the U-19 boys will also believe in themselves. They (India U-19) also played good matches where they beat Argentina (in the COTIF Cup) and did really well," he continued.
"Our U-16s' performance will definitely boost them in the (AFC) U-19 qualifiers. The boys now believe that India can qualify on merit and I think the India U-19 team will do well (in the AFC U-19 qualifiers)."
Just as in the AFC U-16 Championship, should they make it to the U-19 finals, the top four teams would gain a direct entry in the subsequent U-20 World Cup.
The 2019 AFC U-19 Championship qualifiers will be held in September 2019.