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  5. SAFF U-15 Ch'ship: India score 28 goals in 5 games to win title, set sights on AFC U-16 Qualifiers

SAFF U-15 Ch'ship: India score 28 goals in 5 games to win title, set sights on AFC U-16 Qualifiers

India U-15 head coach Bibiano Fernandes says he was pleasantly surprised by the number of goals at the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) U-15 Championship.

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Kolkata Published on: September 01, 2019 16:22 IST
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India U-15 head coach Bibiano Fernandes says he was pleasantly surprised by the number of goals at the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) U-15 Championship.

The Indian colts pumped 28 goals and conceded none in five matches played at the SAFF Championship at Kalyani stadium in West Bengal. The head coach, Bibiano Fernandes, expressed his surprise at the performance by the Indian youngsters in the tournament.

"I did not expect so many goals, but I knew that this group has the capability to score goals because we have good, some very good forwards. Our other offensive players are also capable of providing them with ample support in attack," he said.

Fernandes said that a well-oiled scouting system is behind the team's dominance in the tournament. "Every team-building process must start with scouting," he said. "We started before February in the Subroto Cup. Then there was the Hero Junior League, and along with that, we had open trials in many states. I personally oversaw some of the trials, while (Assistant Coach) Kanan (Priolkar) also scouted in some states."

"The scouting process has really helped out coaches like me, because we had not really been reaching out to players in various areas earlier. Then comes the preparation, when we went to Italy for our first exposure and then to Thailand ahead of the SAFF Championship," he said.

The preparation for this moment started at the beginning of the year, when the team travelled to Italy, where they played against some tough opposition like USA, Mexico, Slovenia and Qatar.

"When we came back, we knew where exactly we have to strengthen the squad. And then again, we got in some of the scouted players," said Bibiano. 

"After the scouting process was done, we went to Thailand to test ourselves, which was also very helpful. It was after the Thailand tour, that we knew that this team was ready for competitive international football at this age category."

With the SAFF Championship conquered, the team is now prepared to set its sights on the AFC U-16 Qualifiers, where they have been clubbed together in Group B, alongside Uzbekistan, Bahrain and Turkmenistan.

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