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‘We Are The Underdogs’: India U-17 Football Coach Bibiano Fernandes Says Team Will Give Its Best in Every Game at AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers


India U-17 national team head coach Bibiano Fernandes said his boys haven’t tested themselves against the best but hoped they will be able to put up a good show in the AFC U-17 Asian Cup 2023 Qualifiers after their recent success.

India have been clubbed in Group D of the AFC U-17 Asian Cup Qualifiers, where they will face the likes of Maldives (October 3), Kuwait (October 5), Myanmar (October 7), and hosts Saudi Arabia (October 9).

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The India U-17s started off their junior international campaign by lifting the SAFF U-17 Championship in Sri Lanka earlier this month, before playing a friendly against the Oman U-17 national team, which they won by a 3-1 margin in Muscat.

“Our teams have done well in the qualifiers historically, but this is a completely new team, that is yet to test itself at this level. So as far as I am concerned, we are the underdogs, and we will give it our best in every game,” said Fernandes in a release.

India arrived in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, from Muscat, Oman, on Thursday before shifting to Al Khobar, where most of their matches will be taking place.

“The pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone, and it is also a time when we were not able to play many exposure matches. But we have had a good outing in the SAFF Championship and last week against Oman as well,”

“Yes, we have made a few mistakes, but that’s what these matches are for. We have learned from these, and have worked on these issues in training, and hopefully we can now give a good account of ourselves in the Asian qualifiers.”

Coach Fernandes sounded confident, yet cautious about India’s chances in Group D.

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“I feel that we are up against some tough teams this time, and there will be good competition for places to make it to the finals of the AFC U-17 Asian Cup this time round,” he said.

India begin their campaign on Tuesday against the Maldives at the Prince Saud Bin Jalawi Stadium.

Fixtures

  • October 4: Maldives vs India, 12 Midnight, IST.
  • October 6: India vs Kuwait, 12 Midnight, IST.
  • October 7: Myanmar vs India, 8.45 PM, IST.
  • October 10: India vs Saudi Arabia, 12 Midnight, IST.

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