On the eve of Diwali, the India Under-17 players kicked off preparations for the AFC U-19 Championships qualifiers. While 17 players have been retained from the 21-member World Cup Squad, 11 have been called up from the U-19 team for the week-long camp at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
India are placed in Group D with hosts Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Turkmenistan with the qualifiers starting from November 4. Hendry Antonay, Sunny Dhaliwal, Namit Deshpande and Mohammed Shahjahan are the ones to miss out. “Sunny and Namit have exams while Hendry and Shahjahan will not fit into the squad. (Goalkeeper) Dheeraj Singh and (defender) Anwar Ali will join the squad tomorrow (Thursday),” a team official said.
After the World Cup, the teenagers got only three-four days of Rest before returning to practice. But coach Luis Norton de Matos showed no mercy as he took them through a two-hour long training session. The youngsters showed great enthusiasm but it hardly reflected on their game as not a single good move was created in their practice match.
De Matos said he was observing how the U-17 players combine with the U-19 players. “I know that they hardly got rest but it is important that these players continue the process. We will be facing strong oppositions and they need to keep playing at this high level,” said the coach.
The coach will have to deal with injury concerns as U-17 captain Amarjit Singh Kiyam is nursing a groin injury and sat out of the practice session. Jeakson, Amarjit’s cousin and India’s only goal-scorer in the World Cup, said the players are ready for any rival now. “We are no longer afraid of these teams. The World Cup has taught us how to handle pressure and how to seize the opportunities.”
Source : timesofindia