India geared up for tougher challenge against Lebanon

Kuwait City, Sep 24 (IANS) After escaping with a 1-1 draw against Tajikistan, India are now gearing up for a tougher test against Lebanon in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-16 qualifier at the Al-Salem Stadium here Wednesday.

For the Indian team comprising U-15 boys from the All India Football Federation's (AIFF) regional academies, the 1-1 draw against a powerful Tajikistan was like a lucky escape. After all, Tajikistan pumped in a dozen goals against Bhutan in their second match.

For the record, Lebanon, more physical than India's U-15 boys, won their first match against Bhutan 4-2 only to go down to hosts Kuwait 1-5 in their second match.

India coach Goutam Ghosh remains hopeful about the boys.

"You need to remember their age. They are not even 15. Their biggest strength is that they learn fast," head coach Goutam Ghosh said on the eve of the match here Tuesday.

Scott O'Donell, the technical director of AIFF Academies and Director, said that the boys didn't play to their potential against Taijikistan.

"The positive stays that in our first match you didn't play to your full potential," said Scott, who is here as an observer.

Ghosh said the boys had their moments against Tajikistan but couldn't capitalise on them.

"We had our moments against Tajikistan and we need to capitalise on them. It was the first-ever AFC Match for the boys. We need to plug in the holes and improve on our positives," Ghosh said.

Ghosh remained optimistic that the India can prevail over Lebanon.

"Our boys have settled down and will go out and play. We are confident about their potential," he said.

Lebanon coach Ibrahim said his boys are determined to bounce back from the loss they suffered against Kuwait.

"It was a bad day for us. But we have to come back strongly and we have a day to recover," said Ibrahim.


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