Dubai: Bibiano Fernandes has cautioned his Indian Under-16 wards to be prepared for tougher battles ahead as they take on the UAE U-16 side in their two friendly matches later this week.
The India Colts team opened their UAE Tour with a 1-0 win against local team Liwa FC earlier this week and coach Fernandes felt that his boys need to raise their game by a few notches going into the double-header against the UAE on January 21 and 24.
Kerala boy Ebindas Yesudasan struck the only goal in the 71st minute as India U-16 team got past a gutsy Liwa FC in their first friendly of their tour to the UAE.
Playing at the Spanish Soccer School ground in Dubai Sports City, India U-16 boys got the lone goal in the 71st minute when the Liwa defence failed to play out from the back and gave away possession inside the penalty box as Ebindas closed down quickly to take a touch and fire into the right top corner for their first win of the tour.
“Liwa FC were very good and a physically strong team and I am very happy that the boys got a well-deserved and hard-fought win. The clean sheet made the win extra special,” Fernandes told Gulf News.
“However, we are now already focused on our next game against the UAE, where I hope to see them improve and put in an even better performance,” he added.
The Indian juniors were scheduled to open their UAE tour with a match against Al Hamriya on January 15 but the match was called off at the last moment, forcing the Indian team management to switch for a friendly against under-19 side Liwa FC.
Fernandes has been preparing the Indian under-16 team for the postponed 2020 AFC U-16 Championship, scheduled to be held in Bahrain some time in April this year. The competition was originally scheduled between September 16 and October 3, 2020, but later rescheduled to November 25 to December 12, 2020 due to the pandemic.
The new dates of the U16 competition are yet to be made known by the AFC. India is in Group C along with Australia, South Korea and Uzbekistan. India’s best performance in this competition came when they played at the 2018 Championship in Malaysia with a quarter final appearance.