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AFC U16 Championship

AFC U16 Championship: Bibiano Fernandes - Wouldn't like to face Indonesia again

20:33 GMT+3 27/09/2018
Bibiano Fernandes AFC U16 Champonship
The Indian U16 team reached the quarters after 16 years and the head coach is already thinking about a potential game with South Korea...

he India U16 team managed to qualify from Group C of the 2018 AFC U16 Championship in Malaysia after a goalless stalemate against Indonesia. They finished second in the group behind Indonesia to book a spot in the quarter-final.  

Head coach Bibiano Fernandes sounded elated after his side became the first Indian side to qualify from the group stages since 2002. "This is really special because we have qualified (for the next round) after 16 years. It's not just me. I would like to thank my staff and those who are back home in the administration, working tirelessly.

"I would like to thank the coaches back home at the grassroots level who had done a good job with these boys. Congratulations to each one of us in India who are working in the grassroots communities, schools and societies," he said after the game.

The Goan-born coach discussed the match and revealed how they negated their opponents. "In the first fifteen to twenty minutes in the first half, we decided that we would sit back and not give the opponent any chance behind the defenders because that is where they use the space for long balls. We sat back and suddenly surprised them with high pressing. We kept our doors shut in the first half and did well. 

"In the second half, we played the same game. We have been pressing well throughout our preparations. At the same time, we keep the door locked behind. We had our chances and we could have scored but I'm glad it ended in a draw."

Simultaneously, Iran were playing Vietnam and a win for either side coupled with a loss for India could have meant an exit. 

"Yes, I got the news they were leading 3-0 in the first half. I did not tell the boys anything about that because that could have put them under pressure. We just had to go out in the second half and fight till the 90th minute.

India are most likely to face Group D leaders Korea Republic in their quarter-final tie, provided they hold on to their top-spot after the final round of matches. 

"Three days to go. We will think about it. I have seen Korea and Australia play but we will look into Korea. They are a very strong team and a team that can win the AFC U16 Championship this year.

"We have got boys that can give a hundred per cent on that day and you never know, it is a knockout game. On a given day, anything is possible," commented Fernandes.

Fernandes was all praise for Indonesia who had previously beaten previous edition's finalist Iran 3-0 in their first group game and stated that he would not like to face the junior Tim Garudas again.

"Indonesia is so amazing. When they are attacking, they look so swift and it is so difficult to stop them. I feel they have good players in attack in (Amiruddin) Bagus and (Sultan) Zico, who is a clinical finisher. (Mochammad) Supriadi is too fast and it is difficult to catch him. We got so many cards because of him. We tried our best.

"No, I don't want to meet Indonesia (laughs). We will get more cards, maybe a red too. They are too fast. We had our plans for Bagus and Supriadi, we tried to double-team them every time they got the ball but still they were getting out from there. They look so smooth in attack when they play one-touch passes and penetrate defences so easily," he concluded.