AFC U-16 Championship Qualifiers: India U-16 Team take on Lebanon

AIFF Press Release
India U-16 take on Lebanon, AFC U-16 Qualifiers,
September 25, 10:30 PM IST, Kuwait City

You look into their eyes and they will look immediately avoid the eye contact. Around three-four seconds later they will stare back at you. If they find you still haven’t moved your eyes yet, they feel guilty as if they have committed a crime. They are innocent, obedient, inquisitive, and shy.

You watch them and remember you were once their age too. Obviously your next wish can’t ever be granted – so better not wish to get back to their age.

Irrespective, you just cannot be blind in your conscience. Deep down you know that however, religiously you may try to preach about your Footballing Instincts (we all do), these boys are just phenomenal.

Put your hands together to welcome the India U-16 National Team (U-15 to be precise), a product of All India Football Federation’s Regional Academy, an initiative which has been an eye-opener for all, that too in span of less than six months.

At the practice session you start pondering as to when did you last see a batch of Indian Footballers playing such ‘Touch Football.’ Their ‘first touch,’ is amazing; they move so fast that you find hard to keep track at times; they love to keep the ball and roam around with it and they press with immediate effect. The impact will make you fond of them. You won’t need any more evidence.

“You need to remember their age. They are not even 15. Their biggest strength is that they learn fast,” Head Coach Goutam Ghosh states a day prior to India’s second match in the AFC U-16 Qualifiers against Lebanon.

For the record, Lebanon, more physical that India’s U-15 boys won their first match against Bhutan 4-2 only to go down to hosts Kuwait 1-5 in their second match.

“It was a bad day for us. But we have to come back strongly and we have a day to recover,” Lebanon Coach Ibrahim uttered at the post-match Press Conference. India were held 1-1 by Tajikistan in their first match.

“The positive stays that in our first match you didn’t play to your full potential,” Scott O’Donell, the Technical Director, AIFF Academies and Director, Coach Education, who’s in Kuwait City as an Observer, stated. Head Coach Gautam Ghosh, standing next, nodded.

“I have seen you play against First Division sides from Kolkata Football League. You even played the UAE U-17 Team the other day. Didn’t you play better?” Ghosh queries next.

This time the boys nod.

“We had our moments against Tajikistan and we need to capitalise on them. It was the first-ever AFC Match for the boys. We need to plug in the holes and improve on our positives,” Ghosh pronounces.

An one-all draw against a very powerful Tajikistan suits India at the moment. There’s always that psychological comfort. After all, Tajikistan pumped in a dozen goals against Bhutan in their second match.

Can India prevail over Lebanon? Ghosh says: “Our boys have settled down and will go out and play. We are confident about their potential.”

The video sessions follow, the boys stay glued. They stay open, devoid of any tension.

The match at the Al-Salem Stadium on Wednesday (September 25) is at IST 10.30pm (Kuwait Time: 8pm).
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About Debraj Banerjee

Hi, I am Debraj Banerjee from Adra, West Bengal. A keen follower of Indian football and always an optimist that the game will get the recognition it truely deserves. What we ask from you is your support and one day the dream might turn true. Fingers crossed for Indian football. Cheers!

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