India U19s all set for international debut at SAFF U19 Championship

KATHMANDU, NEPAL: On Tuesday evening, the Indian Men’s U-19 Team landed in Kathmandu, Nepal to take part in the SAFF U19 Championship. The mid-20s weather was a welcome change after 10 days of hustle in the heat of Saudi Arabia, where the boys, led by head coach Shuvendu Panda, had been training.

In a repeat of last year’s SAFF U20 Championship final, India will begin their Group B campaign with a clash against Bangladesh at the Dashrath Stadium at 13:15 IST. The match will be streamed live on the Sportzworkz YouTube Channel. Bhutan are the third and final side in the group, while Group A consists of hosts Nepal, Maldives and Pakistan. The top two sides from each group will progress to the semi-final.

The current batch of U19 boys, mostly consisting of 2005-born players, have been training together in Bhubaneswar since 2021, and will finally get the chance to make their competitive international debut at the South Asian tournament.

In Al-Ahsa last week, the Blue Colts played two friendly matches against U19 sides of local clubs Al-Nojoom FC and Al-Adalah FC, winning 2-0 and 3-1, respectively. “We have been practising for a long time, almost two years. Before arriving here in Nepal, we had a great tour of Saudi Arabia, where we played a couple of matches. The preparation has been very good,” said head coach Shuvendu Panda in the pre-tournament press conference on Wednesday.

Panda, on the eve of the India U19’s international debut, also extended his gratitude to the AIFF and Odisha government for their continued support throughout the past couple of years. “The support from the federation has been outstanding. I would like to thank the Odisha government for providing world-class facilities to our team during the entire duration.

“Most of our players are inexperienced. They have never played any international match. So, I would also like to thank the federation for providing such a wonderful exposure tour before participating in the SAFF Championship, a tournament we’ve been really looking forward to. I would like to wish all the best to all the teams,” he said.

Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Stadium was also the venue of the 2022 SAFF U20 Championship final, where India ran out 5-2 winners over Bangladesh after extra time. With two of the tournament’s favourites meeting on the opening day, an exciting clash is definitely in store for tomorrow.

Opening up on his team’s preparations, Bangladesh head coach Rashed Ahmed said, “We have been preparing for the past four weeks. We’re in good shape. We arrived here yesterday. Our goal is to win the first match, qualify for the semi-finals and make it to the final. I hope the best team wins tomorrow. It’s going to be a great game.”

Despite the lack of international experience, India’s captain and midfielder Ishaan Shishodia, who hails from Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, has every reason to believe the team can live up to their favourites tag and continue India’s glorious tradition at SAFF events.

“It feels amazing to be here. As the coach said, we’re just coming back from a great tour to Saudi Arabia. We played a couple of games there and won both. Our team feels confident and happy. India has been the most successful nation in every SAFF competition, and I’m sure we can also repeat the glory,” said Shishodia.

Also Read: Asian Games double-header: Blue Tigers, Tigresses gear up for challenge

Also Read: Manipur, Jharkhand, Assam and NCC Schools wins big

VR Academy to conduct trials for 2024-25 Season

Mumbai based VR Academy has announced trials for the upcoming 2024-25 season. The club is looking for talented young players to join our esteemed academy and participate in various competitive…

Share

MH ORANJE FC U-17 Trials for the Upcoming Season

With a proud legacy of nurturing talent and achieving excellence, Maharashtra Oranje FC has recently made waves with appearances in I-League 2, securing a remarkable runner-up position in the fiercely…

Share

Football School of India announce trials for Young Talents

Football School of India (FSI) has announced trials for young football enthusiasts in the upcoming week of June. A golden opportunity for aspiring players to showcase their talents and potentially…

Share

MFA Super League club Charkop FC to conduct open trials for upcoming Season

Calling all aspiring football stars! Charkop FC, a MFA super division club based in Charkop, Kandivali, is set to conduct Open Trials for the upcoming season. About Charkop FC: In…

Share

Mumbai 42 Football Academy to conduct trials for Youth players

Newly established Mumbai 42 Football Academy will be conducting trials for young footballers in the upcoming week.

Share

SSE BFC to conduct trials for U9 to U17 age group players

SSE BFC Soccer School will be conducting fresh trials this month for players aged below 17 to be part of their football program SSE BFC Soccer Schools is a football…

Share

India Khelo Football Season 3 Trials for Mumbai and Thane are here

India Khelo Football (IKF) is back with Season 3 of its widely acclaimed trials with an aim to cover more than 50 cities this time around. After the resounding success…

Share

Mastering the Art of Football Trials: Key Pre-Trial Factors to Keep in Mind

Football trials are a critical juncture for aspiring players to showcase their skills and secure a spot in a team. To maximize your chances of success, it’s essential to tailor your approach based on your playing position as well as keeping in mind a few pre-trial factors.

Share

Somaiya Sports Academy to conduct trials for MFA 2nd Division campaign

Somaiya Sports Academy is looking for passionate young football players for the Somaiya Sports Academy Football Team to compete in the MFA 2nd Division League 2023-2024. If selected, you will…

Share

BFC Soccer Schools – Mumbai to conduct trials for U14 & U16 Girls

The BFC Soccer Schools Elite team girls’ trials are coming up in search of talented players from the U14 to U16 (Born 2009 and after) age groups into the club’s…

Share