When nothing special is expected off from our young players, they are sizzling at the ongoing Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-22 championship qualifiers.
With no live telecast either on internet or on TV, much is depend on the informations received from media reports. And those informations are just pleasing to ears especially after not so conducive preparations before the boys set-off for Oman to play their matches. Coach Arthur Papas had just little more than 16 days of practice to install his tactics and style of play into the Indian U-22 team.
With one of Asia’s top ranked team Iraq, London Olympic qualified UAE, better ranked Oman and Turkmenistan in the same group, India had just glimmer of hope for qualification into the first ever AFC U-22 Championship to be held on 2014. But now, India turned all heads on their own with stealer performances which earned accolades from everyone.
India started their campaign in style by humbling Lebanon 5-2 in the opening match but their big performances came in next two matches against Iraq and UAE. India went down fighting against Iraq (1-2) but earned ravishing praises from all including the Iraq coach who said, “I’ve seen many an Indian team in the past across all age-groups. But I admit this is the best Indian team I’ve ever played against. I mean it.“
In the do or die match against UAE, India earned a well deserved draw with a 87th minute goal from Romeo. This mental ability is what said to be missing from Indian football team. India was said to panic and go down badly once they go behind early or in pressure situation like in last minutes, but in this tournament, young players displayed marvelous composure and even managed to thrive in tough situation by scoring goals in last minutes now.
Top two teams from each group qualifies automatically but there is also one qualification spot for best 3rd placed team.
India now has the more than realistic chance to qualify for AFC U-22 championship if they win their next two matches and few other results go in their way. India’s next two matches are against Turkmenistan (today) and Oman (July 3rd). With their current form, India is expected to roll over Turkmenistan but Oman match will test our metal.
India vs Turkmenistan (India must win with more goals)
Lebanon vs UAE (hope, UAE won’t score many goals)
Iraq vs Oman (Iraq must win)
July 3rd matches:
Oman vs India (India must win)
Turkmenistan vs Lebanon
Iraq vs UAE (Iraq must win)
- This is the best case for India to qualify for main event. If this happens, then both India and UAE will be at 10 pts, and goal difference will decide who will finish second in the group.
- If Iraq draw against Oman and India beats Turkmenistan today, then Iraq beats UAE and India defeats Oman on coming Tuesday, again the goal difference will decide who either UAE or India finish at second.
- If Iraq lose against Oman and India beats Turkmenistan today, then Iraq beats UAE and India defeats Oman on coming Tuesday, again the goal difference will decide who either UAE or India finish at second.
- If Iraq wins against Oman and lose against UAE, then even with India winning both their matches, chances are very slim leaving us to fight for best placed 3rd team spot.
- If India wins remaining two matches and rest of matches don’t go our way, then we will fighting for best 3rd placed team spot with 10pts.
If not any of above scenario happens, then chances of India qualification will be affected largely.
Lets keep the fingers crossed. India as coach Papas said displaying some great fighting skills on the field which is a enough motivation factor for improvements to come.