AFC U19 Championship qualifiers: Indian colts look to make amends against Yemen
The Indian colts started their campaign in the AFC Under-19 Championship qualifiers on a disappointing note as they were humbled by hosts Saudi Arabia by a margin of 5-0 on Saturday at the Prince Mohamed bin Fahd Stadium, in Dammam, Saudi. The generation next of Indian footballers, after their promising show in the recently concluded FIFA U17 World Cup, still have a chance to make amends.
The Indian football team is placed in Group D and will play against Yemen on November 6, followed by a tie against Turkmenistan on November 8. India coach Luis Norton De Matos however, left out promising footballers in Komal Thathal, Abhijit Sarkar and Aniket Jadhav from the squad that is competing at the AFC U19 qualifiers.
The duo of forwards Abhijit Sarkar and Aniket Jadhav besides midfielder Komal Thathal had featured in the FIFA U17 World Cup 2017 squad that represented India in front of their home crowd. On Saturday, Louis Norton De Matos fielded only one striker in the form of Rahim Ali and chose to use forward Roshan Singh as the left back. But the hosts Green Falcons forward line proved too lethal a force on Saturday.
The final scorecard could have looked much worse fort India had it not been for goalkeeper Dheraj Singh Moirangthem, who once again proved his mettle under the bar. The Manipur lad is certainly growing in stature post his impressive outing in the U17 World Cup and is one of the players to watch out for in the AFC U19 qualifiers.
The qualifiers were introduced in the year 1980 and India managed to make it through to the main draw 8 times since then. Before that, teams did not have to play for the qualifiers and could directly compete in the main draw. India were the joint winners of the tournament in 1974.
The AFC U19 Championship to be staged next year in Indonesia, and will feature 16 teams out of the 43 teams (divided into 10 groups) from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) that are currently playing in the qualifiers. The teams which finish on top of each group will make the cut for the championships. The best places second teams too have a chance to qualify.