AFC U-20 Asian Cup Qualifiers: India look to ‘put in the hard yards’ against Australia (preview)

The India U-20 men’s national football team will be looking to forget their defeat against Iraq and put in the hard yards when they take on Australia in their next match of the AFC U-20 Asian Cup 2023 Qualifiers at the Ali Sabah Al-Salem Stadium, here on Sunday.

The first round of matches in Group H ended with a 4-2 victory for Iraq against India, while Australia defeated hosts Kuwait 4-1 in the second match of the night.

These results put Australia and Iraq in the respective top two spots on the table, while India and Kuwait occupy third and fourth places, respectively.

“We saw Australia’s match against Kuwait last night, and they are of course a very good team. They are the favourites to top the group, and we will have to be at our best against them,” said India head coach Shanmugam Venkatesh.

“That being said, if we stick together as a team and put in the hard yards, we can come out with the result against them too,” he added.

Although the result didn’t go in their favour, the Indian coach is happy with the fight put up by the team.

“The boys put out a good performance in the match, and I was quite happy with the way they fought till the very end,” he said.

“With the kind of domestic preparation we had, they have done quite well, and they showed their character,” he added.

“Most of the goals that we conceded were in the first 10 minutes in the first half or the second half. So, coach Venkatesh wants his side to concentrate more on the starting phase of the game.

“If we could eliminate that initial lack of concentration, we can really do well. But the main thing is they showed character and grit, and that’s what I always want to see on the pitch,” he said.

“Yes, we did make a couple of mistakes that cost us on the pitch, but we will correct those and go again in the next game. It’s always a learning process — that’s football,” he concluded.

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