India colts to play two friendlies in Serbia

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New Delhi, Sep 8 (IANS) The India Under-19 football team will travel to Serbia to play two back-to-back international friendlies against their Serbian counterparts on September 13 and 17, an official statement from the All India Football Federation (AIFF) said on Saturday.

Both the matches are part of the exposure tour being organised by the AIFF in coordination with the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to provide the best possible preparation to the U-19 boys for the forthcoming I-League season, and with an eye on the U-19 AFC Championship qualification next year.

Former India striker and national team director Abhishek Yadav said playing regularly against youth teams of nations in the top 50 of the FIFA Rankings has its own significance.

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“Serbia will be the fifth top-50 team (as per the FIFA rankings) that we will be facing within a month-and-a-half. In a 50-day period, we will be competing six matches under our belt against regular World Cuppers from the two continents of World Football — South America and Europe,” Abhishek said.

“The matches have been part of competitions so there has been that added edge. The players and our all-Indian staff are learning from these tough tests,” he added.

Abhishek said that motivation levels are much higher.

The Indian U-19s had earlier participated in the COTIF Cup in Spain before flying to Croatia for the Four-Nation tournament.

In the COTIF Cup, the Indian colts had defeated U-20 Argentina 2-1 and held U-20 World Cup runners-up Venezuela 0-0.

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–IANS

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