Avoiding complacency will be key for the India U-16 National Team when they take on Bahrain in their second match of the ongoing AFC U-16 Championship Qualifiers, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
The U-16 side made short work of Turkmenistan 5-0 in the opening day of the qualifiers, and courtesy the result they are on an unbeaten run of 12 matches, a fact that Head Coach Bibiano Fernandes is extremely cautious of.
“There is a very fine line between confidence and complacency. Yes, we have won 12 matches in a row, but we also need to be careful that we do not get complacent, especially at this stage,” Fernandes warned.
“The AFC Qualifiers is what we have been working towards over the course of the year. A bad 90 minutes can ruin all the hard work that the players and the coaching staff has put in over the course of the last few months,” he added.
While he is happy about the India’s “winning habit” Bibiano feels that it is now time to work hard and push through the group stage.
“Winning is a habit, and it has become a good habit for us. I am glad that my boys are putting up good results one after the other, but this is not the time to think about that,” Bibiano further said.
“Right now, we have to put our heads down, keep working hard, and push through the group to ensure qualification for the AFC U-16 Championship next year.”
Currently, as it stands, India are on top of the group with three points, and are ahead of hosts Uzbekistan by virtue of goal difference. While Bahrain lost to the hosts 1-3 in their opening game, Bibiano feels that the middle eastern side is one that has the capability of making late comebacks, which is why the Blue colts would need to be on their guard.
“Bahrain are a strong side. I watched their match against Uzbekistan. They may have lost the game 1-3, but they actually gave Uzbekistan a good run for their money for most of the time,” Bibiano commented. “They could even have secured a point from the game. They were down 1-2 down in the last few minutes, and won a penalty which they missed.”
“They are a side that never gives up. Uzbekistan tried to dominate, but they defended well. We can see that they have come to win as well, so we would need to be on our guard,” he rounded off.
The match against Bahrain on Friday (September 20) is slated to kick-off at the Transportation Institute Stadium at IST 4.30pm.