India’s Asian Dream of qualifying for the World Cup 2025 may still seem a little blurred but India isn’t the one to sit back and quit, instead they are pacing slowly towards their Asian Dream. Proof, the U-16 team of India is just an inch away from creating history, as their one win will qualify them for the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup on merit. India hosted the FIFA U-17 World Cup last year under which they played in the tournament. However, on Monday if India wins in Malaysia, this will be the first time they will make it into a FIFA event purely on merit.
Even as history beckons, India has a massive challenge ahead in the form of Korea Republic, perhaps the strongest team in the competition but the Colts coached by Bibiano Fernandes would want to defy the odds.
India takes on the Korea Republic at the Petaling Jaya Stadium on Monday and will look to polish their shooting boots and maintain their solid defence to have a chance against the Asian Games gold medallists.
The battle is all set to be interesting as the Korea Republic have scored 12 goals from three group matches so far without conceding any while India has not conceded a single goal but have scored only one.
In the group stage, India beat Vietnam 1-0 in their first match and then held Iran and home team Indonesia (in front of a vociferous crowd) to a 0-0 draw to make it to the quarter-finals.
“We know the Korea Republic are the favourites and we are the underdogs,” head coach Bibiano Fernandes stated. “They are the overwhelming favourites.”
“But we have been the underdogs since the group stages and we are banking on the same against the Korea Republic,” Fernandes further said.
“We all know the gravity of the moment and what it will mean for Indian football. But at the same time, we will play without pressure and back ourselves up as underdogs. We will fight.
“If the Korea Republic underestimate us, we shall prove them otherwise and give them a run for their money.”
India’s defence has been rock solid this tournament. They held Iran to a 0-0 draw and despite all the pressure from the crowd and Indonesia, they survived without conceding a goal and central defender Bikash Yumnam has been an integral part of the showing.
India is looking forward to strengthening their defence line even after holding out the likes of Iran and Indonesia, is looking to prove themselves once more against Korea, who have scored 12 goals in the competition, including a whopping 7-0 win against Afghanistan.