The India U-19 National Team gears up to clash swords against Japanese club side Kashima Antlers in the 1st leg of the semifinals of the 2015 FAM-FRENZ Asia Champions Trophy at the Hang-Tuah Stadium in Malacca, Malaysia tomorrow (October 28, 2015). The kick-off is at 13.45 IST.
The Indian contingent comes on the back of a four match undefeated streak – winning three and drawing one recently against Frenz United A – and will be looking to gain advantage going into the 2nd leg which is slated for November 4 in Kashima, Japan.
Although the Indian colts finished second in the group stages of the tournament, courtesy inferior goal difference when juxtaposed to leaders Frenz United A, the India U-19 colts had garnered 11 points out of six matches and had lost only one fixture – an away 4-2 defeat against Thailand’s Chonburi FC. Meanwhile, drawn in a comparatively easier Group, Kashima Antlers finished first with 15 points.
Reflecting upon the fixture ahead, India U-19 Head Coach Lee Johnson said they need to stay “focused.”
“We must stay focused and concentrate on the game at hand,” he told AIFF Media.
“Kashima Antlers are one of the best club teams in South East Asia. They will be very organized and hard to break down.”
“The team has shown a lot of character in recent weeks, but we must be prepared to work hard throughout the course of the match in order to get the result,” Johnson opined.
The Asia Champions Trophy also offers a unique platform for the Indian colts to test their mettle against some of the best club sides in Asia enabling them to evolve in a competitive match environment which further injects in them the technical know-how and match tenacity.
Acknowledging the fact that the tournament has been a good learning experience for the Indian team, Lee Johnson said, “Playing in competitive environment gives you match intelligence and helps you grow as a player. The lads have had a good learning experience and it is heartening to see some of the boys step-up and show character in these matches.”
(Report & Photo courtesy AIFF Media)