NEW DELHI: The Indian U-16 National Team has gone from strength to strength in recent times. Coming off the back of winning the four-nation Tournament in Serbia where the young colts finished Champions ahead of hosts Serbia, Jordan, and Tajikistan, the team will now be participating in another four-nation Tournament, this time in China.
Besides India, the tournament in China will also feature the U-16 National Teams of DPR Korea, Thailand and hosts China. In an exclusive interview, Head Coach Bibiano Fernandes spoke at length about the team’s preparation, the AFC U-16 Championship, the significance of exposure trips, and a lot more. EXCERPTS:
How is the team shaping up for the AFC U16 Championship?
We are in the process of being the best versions of ourselves keeping in mind the goal and working hard every single day. The boys have proven their mettle in Serbia and hopefully they will keep the same focus until the championship.
How important are the exposure trips?
These trips expose and introduce our boys to different styles of football from around the world. Usually our footballers do not get an opportunity to rub shoulders with teams from say, Europe and these trips give the boys the chance to do exactly that. In addition, when we start winning games in these exposures, the confidence and self-belief in the boys increased rapidly.
I need to thank AIFF and Sports Authority of India for arranging the same for us. The boys stay indebted to them.
You will be facing tough teams in China.
We are looking forward to this test. I am much more happy when we play stronger or older age-group teams as it is always a tougher challenge. It pushes us to perform to our best levels and in the process it help us to improve on all aspects. We know it is going to be a tough challenge in China, but we are ready for it.
Will it be physically challenging?
When it comes to foreign exposure trips, it is always physically challenging and we have been working on improving our own physical aspects as well. It will be interesting to see how our boys cope with that.