AIFF arranges another exposure tour for India U-16 team

NEW DELHI: Less than a month after the Indian U-16 National Team played the U-16 National teams of United States of America and Norway in the Sportchain International Friendlies, All India Football Federation has arranged another exposure tour for the boys in May.

The U-16 colts will now travel to Serbia to play in a four-nation tournament where they will be competing against Jordan, Tajikistan and hosts Serbia. The tour to Serbia comes after the boys had earlier played in Qatar, Hong Kong and in Spain.

All the exposure tours have been planned to help the team prepare in the best possible fashion for the forthcoming AFC U-16 Finals Malaysia 2018. This is India’s third qualification to the AFC U-16 Finals in the last four editions. India have been clubbed with current runners-up Islamic Republic of Iran, Vietnam and Indonesia in Group C of the Championship.

Significantly enough with both Jordan and Tajikistan having also qualified for the AFC U-16 Finals, Head Coach Bibiano Fernandes feels it’s a “marvellous opportunity before the real test.”

“This 4-nation tournament is an extremely helpful project for us before the real test in September. It will help us gauge ourselves where we stand against the likes of Jordan, Tajikistan and of course Serbia. It will help us assert the areas which we need to plug in,” he said.

Referring to his team’s matches against a strong USA and Norway, Bibiano stated the “boys have shown their mettle against them.”

“The USA and Norway are much-respected footballing nations across the world. But our boys played their hearts out. They look in good shape and are hungry to achieve more,” he added.

India suffered two narrow 0-1 defeats to the USA before going down 1-3 to Norway in the Sportchain Friendlies.

India’s fixtures in the U-16 four-nation tournament in Serbia is as follows:

May 9, 2018: India vs Jordan (IST 1930hrs).

May 11, 2018: Serbia vs India (IST 2230hrs).

May 13, 2018: Tajikistan vs India (IST 1930hrs).

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