Having finished the Asian Football Cup U-16 Qualifiers 2018 campaign on a positive note Bibiano Fernandes, Head Coach India U-16 National Team, hailed the team and said the match against defending champions Iraq displayed the boys temperament.
"Drawing against defending champions Iraq shows our boys' prowess and their temperament while contesting at the bigger stages, I would like to thank AIFF for arranging the exposure trips to Egypt and Qatar, which have helped us immensely gauging our abilities and planning our strategies for the next matches," Bibiano said on the way back home from Nepal.
The U-16 team who are now unbeaten in 12 matches (including practice matches and official matches) are in a favourable position to qualify for the AFC U-16 Championship 2018 by finishing one of the five best second-placed teams across the continent. They will know their position only on September 29 when other U-16 Qualifiers across other venues in Asia finish.
India finished their unbeaten campaign with 5 points from 3 matches, having drawn against hosts Nepal and defending champions Iraq and beating Palestine 3-0.
He also praised the AIFF highly for the youth development programme started a decade back, terming it as 'a brilliant initiative.'
"While congratulating the boys, we must not forget the AIFF's inputs to achieve this feat. As I'm being informed, finishing AFC U-16 Qualifiers unbeaten hasn't been very common to us but we've done it this time," Fernandes said.
"It rightly reflects how we're improving and I must say that we're actually reaping the benefits of the years of rigorous youth development programme which is nothing but a brilliant initiative, to say the least, I really feel proud of my boys and they all have a bright future ahead. I foresee most of them playing for the India Senior Team in the near future," he added.