India will need just a draw against hosts Uzbekistan in their final match on Sunday to qualify for the AFC U-16 Finals to be held in Bahrain next year.
With six points from two consecutive wins, and 10 goals to their kitty, the Indian U-16 side will make it to the continental U-16 championships final round if they either win or draw Sunday’s match.
India had beaten Turkmenistan and Bahrain by identical 5-0 margins in their earlier two matches and they have a goal difference of plus 10.
Uzbekistan have beaten Bahrain 3-1 and Turkmenistan 3-2. They also have six points, but at a goal difference of plus 3. So even a draw against hosts and Asian powerhouses Uzbekistan would ensure India’s qualification.
As per the regulations, the 11 group winners, and the four best second-placed teams will make it to the AFC U-16 Finals, with Bahrain being automatic entrants on virtue of being the hosts.
“We have had two good results. We need to go into the last game against Uzbekistan with the same attitude. A draw is never in our mind,” said head coach Bibiano Fernandez.
“We want to win it and come out of the group with nine points. We had set an objective of winning all three games in the group, before coming here, and we intend to fulfil that objective, regardless of what the equations are,” he added.
In the last 10 years, India U-16 national teams have made it to the AFC finals on three occasions – in 2011, 2015, and 2017.
Bibiano’s counterpart Azamat Abduraimov said, “India are a strong team. It’s evident in the manner they play. Despite playing at home, we will respect them. We will go out to secure a victory, but that won’t be easy. It will be an interesting match.