India hoping for a Winning Start In the AFC U-17 Asian Cup

The hard work will be put to test as India eye a winning start against Vietnam in their AFC U-17 Asian Cup opener in Thailand on Saturday.

Abishek Goswami
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Asian Cup | India hoping for a Winning Start In the AFC U-17 Asian Cup | Sportz Point

Indian head coach Bibiano Fernandes helped the team reach the semi-finals in the 2018 edition of the AFC U-17 Asian Cup. India have trained in Spain and Germany for the last month and a half, playing matches against the youth sides of Real Madrid, Atletico de Madrid, Getafe CF, UD Levante, VfB Stuttgart, and FC Augsburg.

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Bibiano Fernandes hoping for a great campaign

"Winning matches and qualifying for the FIFA U-17 World Cup is most important. If we don't play the World Cup at this age, we can't develop as a footballing nation. Development is on our mind, but we also focus on winning." India had previously faced Vietnam in the 2018 edition of the competition (then known as the AFC U-16 Championship), a match that they won 1-0 after an 86th-minute penalty by Vikram Partap Singh.

Fernandes said, "We played Vietnam in 2018 in the group stage, and it was a great experience for the boys. We were able to build on that result and went on to secure two more qualifications for this tournament."

"Of course, improvement in the players is key, but winning is always important. We want to develop and cultivate top players, and we cannot do that if we are not winning," said Fernandes.

The results have been quite positive for the Blue Tigers. Fernandes feels that Group D of the AFC U-17 Asian Cup will be an altogether different affair.

"We have some very good practice matches in Europe, where we played some top-quality teams. However, we know that competition is a competition, and the matches will be different," he said.

"We know the level here. All three of our opponents in the group stage are regulars in the AFC U-17 Asian Cup, so we've had a plan and have prepared likewise for this competition," said Fernandes.

Hoang Ahn Tuan opened up ahead of the AFC U-17 Asian Cup opener

"Vietnam is a neighboring country, and they will probably have some fans in the stands, so we have also trained the boys to perform under pressure and noise from the stands." Vietnam head coach Hoang Ahn Tuan showed a lot of respect to his opponents on the eve of the match and feels confident about his team's chances.

"The match against India will be important for us. I show my deepest respects to all the teams participating in this group," said Tuan.

"We just want to say that we are placed very well. We respect Uzbekistan, Japan, and also India. I also don't think about who is the strongest team in this group. So we will go on to give our best performance in this competition."

"To be honest, I don't feel the pressure because of the fans coming. In fact, with more fans, we will feel more satisfied and relaxed for the match and I hope that the players will feel the same as myself."

"But it is not easy to predict the youth-level mentality and I hope when the fans come tomorrow, we will hold a good account of ourselves," he said.

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