AFC U16 Championship | India a win away from qualifying for FIFA U-17 World Cup

AFC U16 Championship | India a win away from qualifying for FIFA U-17 World Cup

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India coach Bibiano Fernandes has said that the AFC U-16 Championship quarterfinal against South Korea will be the most challenging one for his players' careers, overcoming which, will give them a ticket to the U-17 World Cup. The Korea Republic are the favourites to win the championship.

Having qualified for the knockout stage for the first time since 2002, India has will meet the mighty Koreans, already titled as the overwhelming favourites by Indian coach Bibiano Fernandes. India hosted the under 17 football World Cup and they have another golden chance to make it to the big event. India will face the South Koreans on October 1 at the Stadium Petaling Jaya in Malaysia. 

"Korea Republic are one of the teams touted to win the AFC U-16 Championship and the match against them will be the most challenging ninety minutes that any one of us has ever faced. Korea Republic are the overwhelming favourites," Bibiano said two days ahead of the match. Reported PTI.

Speaking about the strength of the Korean Republic team, Bibiano said, "They are tactically agile and have swift players in almost all positions who are capable of catching the opponent defence off guard. But the Indian coach believes his team, despite being underdogs are ready for the challenge, "We are raring to go. It would not be easy but it would be worth it. If we play to our strengths, we can give them a run for their money. We will fight." 

The Indian team has performed really well in the tournament until now. The Indian team has already upset big Favorites Iran when they held them for a goalless draw. They did the same against Indonesia in the final game which confirmed their berth in the knockout stage.  Now the Boys in Blue, stand a win away from making it to FIFA's age-group showpiece.  The coach believes that many have underestimated the Indian team.

"However, we were underestimated in our 1-0 win over Iraq in the Four-Nation Tournament and we were underestimated in the group stages of the AFC U-16 Championship. But here we are, we will give everything that we have in the match against the Korea Republic," said the Indian coach.

"Everybody in the squad including the staff knows the gravity of our quarterfinal. The boys have sacrificed a lot for these coming ninety minutes and have worked tirelessly day in and day out for the same. This is the moment that they have been preparing for, almost their whole lives till now. We have always believed that a solid defence is the foundation of a football team and thus we have worked hard in our defending and high pressing style of play. The credit goes to the players for defending as a single cohesive unit and not as individuals and to their intelligent mind-sets. They read the game well for sure.”

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