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India U-17 Players Join Training Camp Ahead of AFC U-19 Qualifiers

Barely a week after India’s first ever World Cup team finished their physically and mentally draining campaign at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, they are back to the long hours of training for the AFC U-19 Qualifiers

Abhimanyu Sen | News18 Sports

Updated:October 19, 2017, 1:42 PM IST
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India U-17 Players Join Training Camp Ahead of AFC U-19 Qualifiers
India U-17 Team and U-19 team at practice in New Delhi (Image: News18Sports)

New Delhi: Barely a week after India’s first ever World Cup team finished their physically and mentally draining campaign at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, they are back to the long hours of training for the AFC U-19 Qualifiers, which begins on November 4.

Reflecting on their hard introduction to top level competition, the Portugese coach, Luis Norton de Matos said that the games against USA and Colombia proved that his team had the willingness to fight, but also noted that they had been outplayed by Ghana.

Of the squad of 21 that were part of the on-going World Cup, Sunny Dhaliwal, Hendry Antonay, Namit Deshpande and Md Shahjahan have been left out of the camp, while the rest have joined up with 11 India U-19 players in the national capital. Their first assignment though will be a friendly against the Qatar U-19 team.

While it is not clear as to whether Sunny and Namit who have returned to Canada and USA respectively for academic reasons will make it back to the national team set-up, India's 'find of the tournament', goalkeeper Dheeraj Moirangthem and defender Anwar Ali are expected to join the camp on Thursday. India's U-17 captain Amarjit Singh and forward Aniket Jadhav did not train on Wednesday as they are still recovering from injuries.

“The players went home for a brief period and maybe some more rest would have been good because the World Cup is the highest level of competition. But, up next is Qatar and then we have to go Saudi Arabia for the qualifiers. We cannot shy away from competition otherwise we will not stand a chance in making it to the AFC Championship,” Matos said.

The team is expected to leave India on October 25, and as the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup draws to a close on October 28, they will take on Qatar in a friendly international before travelling to Saudi Arabia. India are in Group D along with Yemen, Turkmenistan and hosts Saudi Arabia. If India can make the AFC Championships, which will be held in Indonesia between October 18 and November 4 next year.

“Results at the AFC qualifiers are important, but it is also important that the boys get a taste of competition at this level. All the teams we will play are tough teams, and this is the process that needs to continue for improvement,” emphasised Matos on the side lines of a training session in the national capital.

The coach also impressed upon the fact that the young squad who he has been with since February this year, would do well to join the I-League. The Portuguese, who harps on the importance of competition over friendly and practice games, is keen on continuing his work with the Indian team and is understood to be in advanced stage talks with the AIFF on extending his stay.

“I would love to be able to continue to work with this team in the I-League along with Floyd Pinto. It will be a good step up for the team and the challenge is essential,” he concluded.

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| Edited by: Madhav Agarwal
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