With qualification for the 2018 AFC Under-19 Championship on their minds, India will embark for Saudi Arabia to take part in the qualifiers for the continental tournament.
India have been drawn in a four-team Group D of the qualifiers with hosts Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Turkmenistan for company.
The main event to be held in Indonesia next year will see 16 teams participate with the hosts gaining an automatic qualification. 43 teams from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have been drawn into 10 groups for the qualifiers, with three five-team groups and seven four-team groups.
Each group will see the respective teams take on each other once in a centralized venue with the 10 group winners and five best runners-up joining Indonesia in the final event. In case Indonesia manage to win their group or finish among the five-best runners up, the sixth best second-placed team from the qualifiers will join the main fray.
India U-19, led by Luis Norton, have named a 23-man squad for the qualifiers which includes 13 players who participated in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in October under the Portuguese coach’s tutelage.
India 23-man squad
Goalkeepers: Dheeraj Singh, Mohammad Nawaz, Prabhsukhan Singh Gill.
Defenders: Namgyal Bhutia, Sahil Panwar, Deepak Tangri, Ashish Rai, Boris Singh, Sanjeev Stalin, Anwar Ali, Jitendra Singh.
Midfielders: Abhishek Halder, Princeton Rebello, Suresh Singh, Amarjit Singh, Rahul KP, Ninthoinganba Meetei, Nongdamba Naorem, Jeakson Singh.
Forwards: Edmund Lalrindika, Roshan Singh, Lalawmpuia, Rahim Ali.
Head Coach: Luis Norton de Matos
Venue: Prince Mohammd B Fahad stadium, Dammam (Saudi Arabia)
|04-11-2017||Yemen||Vs||Turkmenistan||18:35||Prince Mohd. B Fahad stadium|
|04-11-2017||Saudi Arabia||Vs||India||21:35||Prince Mohd. B Fahad stadium|
|06-11-2017||India||Vs||Yemen||18:35||Prince Mohd. B Fahad stadium|
|06-11-2017||Turkmenistan||Vs||Saudi Arabia||21:35||Prince Mohd. B Fahad stadium|
|08-11-2017||Turkmenistan||Vs||India||18:35||Prince Mohd. B Fahad stadium|
|08-11-2017||Saudi Arabia||Vs||Yemen||21:35||Prince Mohd. B Fahad stadium|
Luis Norton was upbeat about India's chances in the qualifiers when he spoke exclusively to Goal's Atanu Mitra.
“The top team from each group qualifies and then there is an option for the best-placed second teams. It would be a fantastic experience. In Europe, we have five age-level competitions for each year, U-16 to U-20. Here, there is a gap of two years. For some players, it would be the last chance to play the U-19 championship. They are ready to fight it out,” he has said.
The Indians have undergone a 10-day camp at the national capital prior to their departure to Saudi Arabia. The country last qualified for the main event in 2006 when it played hosts to the AFC U-19 Championship.