Tuesday, April 16, 2024

U-17 Men’s Asian Cup: The 1-1 draw was a bit of a disappointment, says former captain Shabbir Ali

Former Indian football team captain Shabbir Ali said India’s 1-1 draw against Vietnam in their opening match of the AFC U-17 Asian Cup was a bit of a disappointment but also admitted Bibiano Fernandes’ team never lost its pattern of play throughout the match.

India came back from behind to draw 1-1 against Vietnam in their Group D match here on Saturday.

“In the end, the 1-1 draw was a bit of a disappointment. We could have won, perhaps. Our build-ups were solid, full of purpose and boys created chances whenever they had the ball,” said Shabbir, a member of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Executive Committee and chairman of the Advisory Committee of the federation.

“India are in a strong group. Vietnam are a compact side, and so are Uzbekistan and Japan. What impressed me was India never lost their pattern of play against Vietnam. They held the ball and distributed it well. There was no panic and sense of unnecessary urgency among the boys… I liked this,” he said.

Shabbir said he was impressed by the way the India U-17 squad prepared under the able guidance of the federation.

“The year we became champions, we hardly received any encouragement before or after the tournament. I remember a particular Kolkata club presenting all the footballers in the squad with a suitcase each. That’s all. With this team, the AIFF’s build-up plan was excellent and the result is showing. The team is doing fine and there is no reason to feel disappointed by the draw in the first match,” he said.

Another former India captain, Climax Lawrence, was happy with the result. He said: “It wasn’t all about the draw. I admit having three points would have been better, but India had the opportunity to pocket full points. They started well and had greater say on the proceedings in the first half an hour.”

Climax drew attention to the fact that India had four clear attempts at the rival goal in the second half.

“Vietnam had a couple of opportunities in the first half, but our defence did extremely well to keep them at bay throughout the second session. Our coach Bibiano Fernandes did a fine job with the substitutions. It added value to our game.

“Overall, India played well and played to a plan. I think they can do better than this against stronger opponents like Uzbekistan and Japan,” said Climax, who is a member of the AIFF Executive Committee.

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