The Indian U-16 football team on Monday are set to face heavyweights South Korea in the semifinals of the AFC U-16 Championship in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. The win will ensure a maiden semifinal appearance and a ticket to the 2018 FIFA U17 World Cup in Peru.
Touted as the strongest team in the tournament, Korea Republic have already scored 12 in three league stage matches without conceding a single goal. India, on the other hand, beat Vietnam 1-0, shared goalless draws with Iran and Indonesia to finish as the runner's up in Group C with 5 points.
"We know Korea Republic are the favourites and we are the underdogs, but we have been the underdogs since the group-stages and we are banking on the same against Korea Republic," head coach Bibiano Fernandes said.
Coach Bibiano said the Indian colts will fight it out and give Korea a run for their money. "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," he said.
The Indian side, however, will miss the services of central defender Bikash Yumnam, who will have to sit out for double booking in the group stages. "Bikash will not be able to play. There's no point of sitting back and lamenting. We need to go ahead with what we have. There are other players in the squad, all capable enough," Bibiano added.
(With PTI inputs)