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Indian Football: A Silent Revolution at Youth Level?

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

Indian football needs a serious revolution in grassroots development. After voting the executive committee has been finally replaced and everyone's hope is that this committee led by a former footballer will bring the necessary structural changes.


U-16 AFC ASIAN CUP so far:

After a little research, I can say a little has progressed though. In terms of results, India's U-16 side in the 21st century played the 2002 Asia Cup and after a long wait, they qualified in 2016 finally but got knocked out of the group stage in 2016. In 2018 India again qualified for the U-16 competition. Not only did they qualify but shocked the whole of Asia by reaching the quarterfinal of the tournament where they were defeated by the mighty Korea Republic. They fell 1 step short of qualifying for the U-17 Fifa World Cup. Bibiano Fernandes was in charge of the team and it is gossip within the Indian football ecosystem that Bibiano Fernandes has already started the silent revolution at the youth level. This claim can't be totally overlooked as India again qualified for the U-16 2020 AFC Asian Cup comfortably through the qualifiers defeating Central Asian teams such as Bahrain & Turkmenistan by 5 goals each and drawing the final match against Uzbekistan. Eventually, India qualified for the U-16 AFC Asian Cup main round as the leader of the group. U-16 AFC Asian Cup in Bahrain was supposed to be held in 2020 but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the tournament got postponed at first. AFC waited till January 2021 but as the circumstances were not in favor of hosting the tournament AFC finally called it off in January 2021. The situation wasn't in favor of Indian Football as this second batch under Bibiano Fernandes had the quality to qualify for the 2021 U-17 FIFA World Cup by their own merit.


U-16 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers 2020 Video Links below ⬇️🎥


🔗India vs Turmenistan- https://youtu.be/jewf1hLwUh0

🔗India vs Uzbekistan- https://youtu.be/i1y9ddzDufU

🔗India vs Bahrain- https://youtu.be/gJ8fXE4aW1M


2023 AFC U-17 ASIAN CUP & Beyond:

After qualifying for the 2016 U-16 Asian Cup India has qualified for the competition back to back 2 times in the later 2 editions one of which got canceled for the pandemic. But the good news for us and all Indian Football followers is that India has again qualified for the U-17 Asian Cup. AFC has changed the U-16 age group completion to the U-17 age group from 2023. India in their qualifiers round that took place in 2022 defeated Maldives, Mayanmar, and Kuwait but lost to Saudi Arabia by 2-1 goals.


Currently, U-17 Youth Cup is happening in India till January 2023, and coach Bibiano has said that intense scouting would be done throughout this tournament to strengthen the India U-17 team for the upcoming U-17 AFC Asian Cup 2023 in May. Good scouting, match exposure, and strengthening can even make this team ready to reach the semi-finals of the Asian Cup and qualify for the next U-17 World Cup from Asia.


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