Thursday, February 22, 2024

U-17 Asian Cup: India up against mighty Japan in do-or-die battle

With a quarterfinal berth at stake and still lacking in a few areas, India will go up against defending champions Japan in a do-or-die last group game of the U-17 Asian Cup here on Friday. The Group D match — India’s toughest so far in the tournament — will be played at the Rajamangala Stadium.
India head coach Bibiano Fernandes is aware of the mammoth task that lies in front of his side but feels that it is one that his boys can scale, if they stick to the plan.
“It’s quite simple for us. We need to win against Japan, and that should be enough to take us through to the quarter-finals. However, that is easier said than done. Japan are one of the best teams in this competition, they are the defending champions,” said Fernandes.
“It won’t at all be easy, but it’s not impossible.” “Funny things have happened in football, and you never know. We will go into the game as the underdogs, no doubt, but if a couple of chances go our way, and we play to the plans, we can get what we were looking for,” he said.
Group D is still an open affair on the final matchday, as all four teams stand a chance to make it to the last eight. For India, it is a rather difficult equation, where it has to defeat Japan and hope for Uzbekistan to get at least a draw against Vietnam.
“It’s difficult, but the boys are really motivated to do well against Japan. It’s an opportunity to play against one of the best teams in Asia, and I am happy to say that that is not lost on them,” said Fernandes.
“We have to believe with all our heart, and hopefully providence will favour us once the match comes to an end.” The Blue Colts failed to win their first two games, drawing 1-1 against Vietnam and losing 0-1 to Uzbekistan. Fernandes has been working on certain areas where he feels India has been lacking.
“The last game was not a good result for us, though the boys tried their best. We know we have to do better, we know what is required in the game and how to approach it,” he said.
“It’s just a matter of putting ourselves together as one unit and executing those plans. We have been lacking some pace on the wings as well. We’ve worked on that before the Japan game, and we will try to achieve what we want to.”

SourceAgencies

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