“Funny things have happened in football…”: India U-17 coach Bibiano ahead of AFC Asian Cup clash against Japan

Bangkok [Thailand], June 22 (ANI): Ahead of his side’s match against defending champions Japan in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-17 Asian Cup, Indian head coach Bibiano Fernandes said while defeating Japan is easier said than done, “funny things have happened in football”.

It is down to the last game in Group D of the AFC U-17 Asian Cup for India, and it is the biggest one of them all so far. Japan await the Blue Colts in a match that will be played at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, one that will decide the fate of the boys from the subcontinent, as per a press release from the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
The Indian head coach said he is aware of the mammoth task that lies in front of his side but feels that it is a mountain that his boys can scale, if they stick to the plan.

“It is quite simple for us. We need to win against Japan, and that should be enough to take us through to the quarter-finals. However, that is easier said than done. Japan are one of the best teams in this competition, they are the defending champions. It would not at all be easy, but it is not impossible,” said Fernandes as quoted by the release.

“Funny things have happened in football, and you never know. We will go into the game as the underdogs, no doubt, but if a couple of chances go our way, and we play to the plans, we can get what we were looking for,” he said.

Group D is still an open affair on the final matchday, as all four teams stand a chance to make it to the last eight. For India, it is a rather difficult equation, where they have to defeat Japan and hope for Uzbekistan to get at least a draw against Vietnam.

“It is difficult, but the boys are really motivated to do well against Japan. It is an opportunity to play against one of the best teams in Asia, and I am happy to say that that is not lost on them. We have to believe with all our heart, and hopefully, providence will favour us once the match comes to an end,” said Fernandes.

The Blue Colts have not been able to fire as hard as they would have wished to in their first two games, drawing 1-1 against Vietnam, and losing 0-1 to Uzbekistan. Fernandes has been working on certain areas where he feels India has been lacking.

“The last game was not a good result for us, though the boys tried their best. We know we have to do better, we know what is required in the game and how to approach it. It is just a matter of putting ourselves together as one unit and executing those plans. We have been lacking some pace on the wings as well. We have worked on that before the Japan game, and we will try to achieve what we want to,” the coach signed off saying.

India’s clash against Japan in Group D of the AFC U-17 Asian Cup will kick off at 5.30 pm IST.