Indian Football

India’s U-19 football team is a work in progress, says coach Luis Norton de Matos

India’s campaign in the AFC U-19 Championship Qualifiers got off to a terrible start after they were crushed 0-5 by Saudi Arabia in the opener.

Coach Luis Norton de Matos said the Indian U-19 football team is a “work in progress”, a day after being thrashed 5-0 by Saudi Arabia in the opening Group D match of the AFC U-19 Championship Qualifiers in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

India will face Yemen at the Prince Mohammad bin Fahad Stadium on Monday.

Reflecting on the drubbing at the hands of the host nation last night, Matos said, “We knew Saudi Arabia is very strong and the fact that they are hosts added to it. They played on a very high level and pressed well to squeeze us out. Their midfield was very composed as compared to ours and we failed to keep possession.”

The Portuguese added, “Our team is a work in progress and we have some players who are 2001 born in the camp. We are focusing on building for the future. Exposing these players to high level international tournaments is very important in their development.”

The Indians were slow off the blocks and the hosts took full advantage of that, pressuring the visiting midfield to commit mistakes.

“We lost the ball in transition and were unable to keep our defensive discipline when Saudi Arabia attacked. We also failed to keep the ball and complete our passes, they having a physically stronger side out-muscled us in almost every duel.”

Asked how does he rate India’s next opponents, Matos said, “It will be a tough clash against Yemen as they are a side which are very quick on the counter-attacks. We need to rectify our mistakes and concentrate on tomorrow’s match if we are to get a positive result.

“Yemen is a team which is on our level and we will search for a win against them. We believe that we can give Yemen a very stern fight.”

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