India U-16 football team gear up for Nepal test

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Kathmandu, Sep 21 (IANS) After an impressive three-nil victory against a strong Palestine in the first match of AFC U-16 Qualifiers, India U-16 will be cautious in their approach when they take on hosts Nepal at the Halchowk Stadium here on Friday.

Coach Bibiano Fernandes said: “There’s no room for complacency, Nepal are a strong side and we know each other with both teams having played in the recently concluded U-15 SAFF Championship final. They will be backed by a partisan crowd and it will be a challenge for us.”

“Everybody saw what we’re capable of but we can’t afford to be complacent,” he reiterated. “We had an ideal start in the tournament but the target is far away. We aim to continue the winning momentum and prefer to take one match at a time,” Fernandes added.

Bibiano also said that India will not start as the favourites even after getting the better of their rivals twice in the recently concluded SAFF U-15 Championship. “We won’t have any advantage over Nepal. Although we beat them twice recently, it won’t have any effect on tomorrow’s game and everyone should start afresh.”

He voiced confidence his squad will be able to “create quite a few opportunities against Palestine”.

“At times we were shaky the other day but at the end of the game, we won the game convincingly. I have full faith in my squad who have created so many opportunities throughout the game,” the coach said.

Meanwhile, Nepalese coach Sunil Kumar Shrestha showed his utmost respect for the Indian side and said: “India have been going through a good phase right now and they were clearly the deserving champions in the SAFF U-15 Championship. We will try to play our natural football to spoil their party tomorrow.”

Earlier, Nepal went down fighting by a solitary goal to Iraq in their first match of the Group D.

–IANS

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