India U-19 footballers set to take on Tajikistan
New Delhi, June 12: The India Under-19 national football team will play Tajikistan in the 11-12th position play-off of the Granatkin Memorial Tournament at the Turbostroitel Stadium, in St Petersburg, Russia, on Thursday.
Tajikistan lost to Armenia 0-3 in the other play-off match on Tuesday to set a date with India, which lost to the Kyrgyz Republic in the penalty shootout after going down to 10 men in the second minute of the match.
Coach Floyd Pinto felt his team missed a number of chances despite dominating the game against the Kyrgyz Republic. But the team displayed discipline and improved gradually from the first game against hosts Russia, Pinto said.
"Obviously, we are not happy with the result (against the Kyrgyz Republic). We played almost the entire game with one man down. Still, we created more chances and had we been able to convert those, we could have finished the game within 90 minutes," Pinto said on the eve of the Tajikistan match.
"We were excited before the game and the boys stuck to the game plan. We dominated the possession and we have been doing that for the last three matches," he remarked.
Pinto said facing another Asian country in the tournament would be a bonus for the team before the Asian U-19 Qualifiers.
"We are facing our second Asian opponent in the tournament. It's a bonus for us. We are expecting an almost similar game like the Kyrgyz Republic. We want to dominate the possession and create more chances than our opponents," he said.
Stating that once the strikers get the confidence of putting the ball in, he said the team would look much better in terms of results. "They have been working really well and I hope they continue the good work against Tajikistan," he said.
"Tajikistan have some really good technical and physical players. We are expecting a high-intensity game. The challenge is to convert the chances and keep a clean sheet. If we are able to do that, it will be a perfect way to end the campaign."
Meanwhile, Ninthoi Meetei and Vikram Partap Singh will continue to sit out owing to injuries, while Sumit Rathi is suspended for the Tajikistan game. Pinto didn't hesitate to accept that the team missed Ninthoi and Vikram during the campaign.