Tuesday, April 16, 2024

U-17 Men’s Asia Cup: Lessons learnt from draw with Vietnam, India gear up for Uzbekistan test

Having learnt their lessons from the 1-1 draw with Vietnam in which both teams had spurned opportunities to clinch victory, the India U-17 boys are now determined to put up a top-notch performance against a strong Uzbekistan in the AFC U-17 Asian Cup here on Tuesday.

Uzbekistan came up with a superb performance to hold the mighty defending champions Japan in their opening match at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok. While Japan created a lot of chances, Uzbekistan weathered the storm before an 83rd-minute equaliser by Amirbek Saidov cancelled out Yutaka Michiwaki’s 8th-minute opener.

India head coach Bibiano Fernandes is aware of the challenge Uzbekistan pose but was confident of his team doing well as it had played them earlier.

“Uzbekistan are an extremely strong side. We’ve played against them before, and we will use all the information available to us to help the team perform better in the next game,” Fernandes after the match against Vietnam.

“Of course, they are a much-improved side from when we played them back in January. This will be a very different game, but I am confident the boys can work on the shortcomings and do well from there.”

In the opening match on Saturday, Vietnam had their chances. India had theirs, perhaps a few more than their opponents but in the end, the match ended in a stalemate with both teams gaining one point each.

Long Vu scored for Vietnam against the run of play and India held the upper hand early in the match, having made a solid. They made a determined effort to claw their way back and Malemngamba Thokchom struck a left-footer to tie the match 1-1.

The encounter may have left many desiring more, but Fernandes said the team will take confidence from its display and come back stronger in the next two matches.

“The scoreline favours everybody. And I mean all four teams in Group D (Uzbekistan held Japan to a 1-1 draw in Bangkok),” said Fernandes. “Of course, it could have been a different story if we got those three points, but we can take confidence from the display and come back stronger for the next two matches.”

Overall, starting the group stage with a point and a solid performance is something that the team can build on.

“It was a good result for us in the end. Our boys played very well, and Vietnam also played a good game. Of course, we would have liked to get three points today, but it is what it is,” said Fernandes. “We’ll certainly take the one point from this match and move forward to the next one,” Fernandes was quoted as saying by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) in a release on Sunday.

While Vietnam enjoyed 59 per cent possession of the ball, it was India who created more chances (four), and the Blue Colts head coach takes a lot of heart from that.

“There were a lot of attacks from our end, but Vietnam also defended quite well in those opening exchanges,” he said. “It was a small defensive error on our part that led to their goal, but overall, I am happy with how the boys have done. One point puts us in a decent position, and we need to make sure we do well in the other two matches.

“Of course, there are things that we have learnt from this game. We will watch this one closely and try to improve upon it and take it from there. This was just the first game of the competition for us, and I am sure the boys will be more confident, more relaxed, and put in better performances here on,” he said.

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