Jammu's Ravi Rana Ready for AFC U-19 Qualifiers After Final Heroics at SAFF U-18 Championships
Ravi Rana is part of the Indian squad that will play the AFC U-19 Qualifiers in Saudi Arabia, starting November 6.
Ravi Rana scored the winner in India's SAFF U-18 Championships final win over Bangladesh. (Photo Credit: AIFF)
New Delhi: It was Ravi Rana's thunderous effort from 30 yards out that won India their first-ever SAFF U-18 title in September. The match was locked at 1-1 and it looked like the match would head into extra time but Rana was not ready for it. He unleashed the huge strike into the top corner and made sure India won the match and the title within normal time.
"There was a lot of emotion involved in the final. We were disappointed after drawing against Bangladesh and were determined to make things right in the final. I saw the angle was open for the shot and I'm glad the ball sailed in. It was a really special moment for me and I'm glad I could contribute to the victory," Rana told AIFF media while recalling his heroics from September.
Born in Jammu, a young Ravi followed his brothers and developed a love for the beautiful game at a very young age. He recalled, "I have three elder brothers and I started playing football seeing them. We used to play on the roof of our house all the time and when I turned nine, I joined a local club named Shaheen."
He moved to Jamshedpur in 2016 to pursue his footballing dream and just a year later, he broke into the junior national team set-up and made an explosive debut in Indian colours in the SAFF U-15 Championship, scoring a hattrick in a 9-0 win against Maldives.
Rana was also a vital part of the side that reached the quarter-finals of the AFC U-16 Championships last year - starting in all four matches for coach Bibiano Fernandes' team.
"Playing in the AFC U-16 championships was a great experience. The whole team was determined to qualify for the U17 World Cup and we came so close to achieving our target. I learned a lot from the whole adventure," he stated.
Since then, the midfielder has stepped up to the U-19 level under coach Floyd Pinto and was part of the team that finished first in the OFC Youth Development Tournament in Vanuatu before the SAFF U-18 triumph.
The next challenge for the team is the upcoming AFC U-19 Qualifiers in Saudi Arabia, which begin on November 6 and where they are expecting a tough challenge. They are however determined to continue their "winning momentum".
"Winning in Vanuatu and Nepal has given the team a great boost. It's always a great feeling to win and we will now look to continue the momentum into the qualifiers. We have been preparing hard for it. The coach has shown great faith in all of us and is constantly motivating and pushing us to give our best."
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