Derrick Pereira has been named the head coach of the India under-23 Team for the forthcoming AFC U-23 Qualifiers slated to be held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Besides India, the other teams in the group are Tajikistan and Pakistan, with Uzbekistan being the hosts.

Pereira will be in charge of the preparatory camp in Goa which kicks-off from March 2. The team will also be playing a friendly match against Qatar U-23 side in Doha on March 11. Pereira had formerly won the National Football League with Mahindra United as coach and had also acted as assistant coach to Sergio Lobera at FC Goa.

The All India Football Federation’s General Secretary Kushal Das congratulated Derrick and said his experience will be invaluable for the U-23 national team. “His coaching pedigree along with AFC Pro Licence degree is the perfect recipe to guide our young players in the AFC U-23 qualifiers. We aim to qualify from the group to the AFC Championship next year, and I wish him and the team good luck,” Das said.

Pereira was happy to take up the post. “It’s an absolute honour to get associated with the National Team set-up. I love to take challenges,” he maintained. “I know most of the players and have seen them in action. But we need to find the right combination to perform and achieve the desired results,” he stated.

National team director Abhishek Yadav said, “The experience of Derrick Pereira as a coach will be important for our team. The preparatory camp will be followed by a practice match against Qatar U-23 which will be a huge test.”

Pereira stressed the challenge against Qatar will be tough. “They are a quality side. I have a feeling that some of the U-23 boys from Qatar will be in their 2022 World Cup squad. It will be a tough challenge which will help us prepare for future assignments,” he explained.

India’s fixtures at the AFC U-23 Qualifiers are as follows:

March 22: Tajikistan vs India

March 24: India vs Uzbekistan

March 26: India vs Pakistan