India face formidable Iraq in AFC U-16 qualifiers

Kathmandu: Having recovered from a disappointing draw against Nepal in their last match, India are expected to face an uphill task when they take on defending champions Iraq in a Group D encounter of the AFC U-16 Championship 2018 Qualifiers at the Halchowk Stadium here on Sunday.

“Yes, obviously boys were feeling a bit down following the draw against Nepal. We were really disappointed but now we have shifted our focus to tomorrow’s match against Iraq”, India U-16 coach Bibiano Fernandes told the official website of the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

“There has been a positive vibe amongst the boys and they’re determined to take the fight to Iraq tomorrow. Although we were left aghast last night, now, we are feeling the fire under our belly to impose a tough challenge to them,” he added.

Iraq are in the top position in Group D with six points from two matches. India have four points from two matches.

“We know the match is going to be extremely crucial, not only for us but also for them. We have to keep an eye on the other groups as the calculations will prove to be pivotal in our quest to qualify for the AFC U-16 Championship 2018,” Bibiano said.

The coach said that there is no injury scare in the Indian camp right now and the team is fully ready for the final encounter of the AFC U-16 Qualifiers.

“The boys are in great shape and everyone is ready to give it a shot against the defending champions,” the former India midfielder said.

“We have to be at the top of our game for 90 minutes and it might be the key to get a positive result. We can’t afford to lose our concentration any time, otherwise, we might have to leave Nepal empty handed,” he added.