Kathmandu, Sep 22 (IANS) A confident India U-18 football team will be looking to open their campaign in the SAFF U-18 Championship on a winning note when they take on Bangladesh in their opening match here on Monday.
Bangladesh sit pretty with a 3-0 victory over Sri Lanka in the opening encounter of the group, and India U-19 Head Coach Floyd Pinto is quite aware of the threats the Bangladesh team possess.
“We watched them in their first match against Sri Lanka. Their physical presence and strength is remarkable. They are also really good on set pieces,” Pinto told www.the-aiff.com.
“All of that means that we need to be on the top of our game. It will be quite a test for us. But we are ready for the challenges. We need to maintain the focus, and the intensity and play the same way as done before,” he added.
Assistant coach Mahesh Gawli also highlighted that the SAFF Championship will be the indicator of the team’s strengths, and weaknesses as they prepare for the eventual test – the AFC U-19 Qualifiers slated in November.
“The SAFF Championship is extremely significant. We have done well in the 3 exposure tours where the boys faced international oppositions and performed very well,” Gawli, touted as India’s best-ever defender since the 1990s, said.
“The boys look focussed, and very sharp in training.”
The U-19 boys headed to the SAFF Championship on the back of a successful outing in Vanuatu, where they had finished in first place.
Floyd insisted that they will be “taking one match at a time.”
“We have to take one game at a time. We also have to maintain the right level of focus, and let our football do the talking. Only what we do on the pitch will matter,” he maintained.
Goalkeeper Prabshukhan Singh Gill felt there is no dearth of leadership in the team.
“We have a lot of leaders in the team who can guide in pressure situations. Bangladesh have a good squad. They had reached the finals in the last edition. The SAFF is a tough tournament. But we are here to win it,” he quipped.