Monday, July 15, 2024

‘It has been an incredible experience’: Bibiano Fernandes bids adieu to Blue Colts

After ending his eight-year association with the national team, India Under-17 head coach Bibiano Fernandes has said that ‘it has been an incredible experience’ and he has been fortunate to work with all the players and support staff during his tenure.

The former midfielder Fernandes, who hails from Mapusa, in Goa, has now joined Bengaluru FC Reserves as the head coach on a three-year-deal.

The 46-year-old helped the India U-16 and U-17 batches win three consecutive SAFF titles and to qualify for the AFC Championships three times in a row.

Perhaps the most memorable moment for the Blue Colts under Fernandes came in the 2018 AFC U-16 Championship in Malaysia, where India finished second in Group C to book their spot in the quarter-finals — one more win away from qualifying for the FIFA U-17 World Cup

Vikram Partap Singh and co. came back with broken hearts, however, after a second-half strike from the Republic of Korea’s Jeong Sang-bin meant a 0-1 defeat for India in the quarter-finals.

“As I come to the end of eight tremendous years with the India U-17 and U-16 national teams, the feeling is one of ample gratitude from my end. I would like to thank the AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey and Secretary General Dr Shaji Prabhakaran for all their help.

It has been an incredible experience, and I’ve been fortunate to have had the pleasure of working with all the players and support staff who were with me during these years My assistant coach Kanan (Priolkar), goalkeeping coaches Felix (Dsouza) and Jude Barretto, team manager Rocky, analyst Mishal (Thanveer), physios Burhan and Sudarson, and kit manager Constancio (Pango) have all been great. Whatever we achieved would not have been possible without any one of them,” said Bibiano Fernandes, in an AIFF media release.

“I am truly grateful for the support, guidance, and friendship I’ve received from each one of them, and I want to express my deepest appreciation for the hard work and dedication that each one of them has put into helping the India U-16 and U-17 batches win three consecutive SAFF titles and to qualify for the AFC Championships three times in a row.

It was also a privilege to work with each and every player that was in our team across all the three batches, and I want to thank all of them for giving their all to the beautiful game,” he added.

Bibiano turned out for Churchill Brothers, Dempo SC, Sporting Clube de Goa and East Bengal in a playing career that spanned over 15 years.

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