AFC U-19 Qualifiers: Toal`s wards ready to make an impact

Updated: Oct 03, 2013, 18:37 PM IST

Doha: India may not wear the favourites tag in their group ahead of the AFC U-19 Championship Qualifiers, which kicks-off from Friday, but they can surely take inspiration from the fact that the present bunch came close to qualifying in the Quarterfinals of the AFC U-16 Championships last year.

In a match they should have won, the Indians narrowly went down to eventual champions Uzbekistan, losing 2-3 in their first Group D encounter where they later held Syria and China to goalless and 2-2 draws respectively.

"It`s a tough Group no doubt and there is no denying that we are not the favourites," Toal told reporters at the pre-tournament press conference here on Thursday.

"We haven`t played Qatar in the recent past and it would be an interesting battle. They are a very good side and we have to put our best foot forward. We have a young side with really good players who have been doing well as a unit. Let`s hope for the best," added Toal.

In a Group that boasts of FIFA U-20 World Cup quarterfinalists Uzbekistan, hosts and 2012 AFC U-19 Championship Finalists Qatar, Turkmenistan and Nepal, the boys in blue will have to put together a string of good results which has been eluding them in spite of good individual performances in the biennial continental meet.

"We have been very competitive in AFC Tournaments. We have had some very good individual results but have failed to put together a series of wins," Toal told www.The-aiff.Com.

"We will try to put together a series of good performances again over the next ten days and there is no denying that it`s a tough group we are in. We have to put our best foot forward," he added.

The Indian U-19 Team, comprising of AIFF`s Elite Academy Boys based in Goa, can take confidence from the fact that since February 2013 they have been on an unbeaten run winning 23 friendly matches out of 26.

Apart from outwitting I-League outfit Salgaocar, and Goan heavyweights Vasco SC, the boys impressed one and all last August with their showing in China where they beat the Chinese U-17 National Team to a pulp scoring 10 goals in two friendlies.