Mentally Strong Indian Colts Expect Tough COTIF Outing, But Won’t Be Pushovers, Promises Coach Floyd Pinto
Indian youth football has been creating a lot of buzz of late. The U-20 team, which mostly comprises players from India’s U-17 World Cup campaign and the Indian Arrows squad, has been on more exposure trips than any of the other teams in the national set-up. Their next assignment is the COTIF Tournament in Spain, where they will play the likes of Argentina U-20, Venezuela U-20, Mauritania U-20 and Murcia U-20.
New Delhi: Indian youth football has been creating a lot of buzz of late. The U-20 team, which mostly comprises players from India’s U-17 World Cup campaign and the Indian Arrows squad, has been on more exposure trips than any of the other teams in the national set-up. Their next assignment is the COTIF Tournament in Spain, where they will play the likes of Argentina U-20, Venezuela U-20, Mauritania U-20 and Murcia U-20.
Previously coached by Portuguese Luis Norton de Matos, the young squad is now in the hands of Floyd Pinto, his deputy, and the man who was at the helm when the Indian Arrows produced a brilliant display in the I-League to beat Shillong Lajong 3-0 in New Delhi. The win against Lajong was arguably the Arrows’ best performance in the whole campaign with Nongdomba Naorem’s fantastic solo goal being the highlight of the winter afternoon at the Ambedkar Stadium.
“We are very excited to be playing in COTIF and aim to be at our competitive best. We are expecting no easy games but we aim not to give an easy game to any opposition. The plan is to be the best version of ourselves in every game,” said the newly appointed coach ahead of his first major assignment.
“We have always been a strong unit physically & mentally and are looking to take back as much as we can for the upcoming domestic season and the AFC U-19 Qualifiers.”
Led by Pinto, an IT engineer whose passion for football prompted him to trade boots for coding, the team was held to a 1-1 draw against Spanish side Union Deportiva Alzira U-22 in a friendly earlier in the week – a preparatory match ahead of the COTIF Tournament. They led till the final minutes before conceding an equaliser.
“COTIF will be our toughest tournament till date, considering the teams participating and that they are an age group or two higher than this squad. Being mentally strong will be of utmost importance,” Pinto told News18Sports.
Pinto, who has more than a decade of experience working with youth teams in India, is of the opinion that the tough bunch that he has at his disposal has a great opportunity to fulfill their true potential and promise.
“The exposure, training & competitive games that this team has played over the years gives them a great platform to work with towards realising their true potential,” said Pinto.
Among these young talented footballers is one Aman Chetri – the striker who missed out on the FIFA U-17 World Cup due to a horrific knee injury he picked up during a game against Belarus at the Granatkin Cup.
The nippy striker had scored twice against Bahrain in 2015 in what was the first international match the young boys played in the lead up to the youth World Cup.
The young striker impressed everyone before he was forced out due to injury, and coach Pinto is glad that he is back to lead the attack.
“During his trial he reminded us of how good a player he is. If he continues to work hard and play well, he will be a good option for us this season leading to the AFC U19 Qualifiers,” Pinto heaped praise on the young boy.
A notable absentee from the squad though is Kerala Blasters goal-keeper Dheeraj Moirangthem, who after a short stint with the Indian Arrows, tried his luck in Scotland’s Premier League with Motherwell FC but failed to make the cut.
“We hope he plays regularly during the Indian Super League season and fulfills his potential of being one of the best keepers in the country,” Pinto signed off.
India’s fixtures at the COTIF tournament:
July 29: India U-20 vs Murcia U-20.
July 31: India U-20 vs Mauritania U-20.
August 03: India U-20 vs Venezuela U-20.
August 05: India U-20 vs Argentina U-20.
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