Tuesday, April 16, 2024

AFC U-17 Asian Cup: India face mighty Japan in do-or-die battle (preview)

India will face defending champions Japan in a do-or-die last game in Group D of the AFC U-17 Asian Cup at the Rajamangala Stadium, here on Friday.

With a quarterfinal berth at stake, the game will decide the fate of the Blue Colts in the tournament.

India head coach Bibiano Fernandes knows of the mammoth task that lies in front of his side, but feels that it is one that his boys can scale, if they stick to the plan.

“It’s quite simple for us. We need to win against Japan, and that should be enough to take us through to the quarter-finals. However, that is easier said than done. Japan are one of the best teams in this competition, they are the defending champions. It won’t at all be easy, but it’s not impossible,” said Fernandes.

“Funny things have happened in football, and you never know. We will go into the game as the underdogs, no doubt, but if a couple of chances go our way, and we play to the plans, we can get what we were looking for,” he added.

Group D is still an open affair as all four teams stand a chance to make it to the last eight. For India, it is a rather difficult equation, where they have to defeat Japan and hope for Uzbekistan to get at least a draw against Vietnam.

“It’s difficult, but the boys are really motivated to do well against Japan. It’s an opportunity to play against one of the best teams in Asia, and I am happy to say that that is not lost on them,” said Fernandes.

“We have to believe with all our heart, and hopefully providence will favour us once the match comes to an end,” he added.

The Blue Colts have not been able to fire as hard as they would have wished to in their first two games, drawing 1-1 against Vietnam, and losing 0-1 to Uzbekistan.

Fernandes has been working on certain areas where he feels India have been lacking.

“The last game was not a good result for us, though the boys tried their best. We know we have to do better, we know what is required in the game and how to approach it,” the coach said.

“It’s just a matter of putting ourselves together as one unit and executing those plans. We have been lacking some pace on the wings as well. We’ve worked on that before the Japan game, and we will try to achieve what we want to,” Fernandes concluded.

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