Indian National Team captain, the man with the most international caps in Indian football Sunil Chhetri stated that he is a “big fan” of the current India Under-16 team that has gone on to earn some fantastic results in recent times.
In a live chat with AIFF TV Chhetri said that he has become a fan of the U-16 batch and hopes that in time they help push India to the top 10 rankings in Asia.
“I’m already a big fan of the U-16 team and the Indian Arrows, especially the U-16 team under Bibiano (Fernandes). They look like a really good unit,” he said.
“They have played some really good football and it’s all about continuing the push to improve with every step. These boys would want to do better than the previous batch (that clocked a quarterfinal finish in the 2018 AFC U-16 Championship),” said Chhetri.
“In the same manner when this batch produces such a good result, it puts the onus on the guys who are currently in the U-14s to prepare even better, because they would want to better the feat achieved by these guys. You constantly want to push the bar higher.”
The U-16 team on Thursday (June 18) were draw in Group C of the AFC U-16 Championship Bahrain 2020 with Korea Republic, Australia and Uzbekistan. The top two teams from the group will advance to the quarterfinals and the four semifinalists will earn a ticket to the FIFA U-17 World Cup Peru 2021.
This is India’s third successive qualification into the AFC U-16 Championship and 9th overall.
“At this stage in Indian football, you want the National Team to push for the top 10 spots in Asia. For that to happen it is very important for these youngsters to come through the ranks and produce the results in the senior team,” Chhetri maintained.
The India captain went on to cite the example of the batch that played the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017. While the players from the World Cup team are still relatively young, Chhetri believes that they already have loads of confidence, having played some top opponents in the U-17 World Cup.
“You should look at the confidence that players like Amarjit (Singh), Suresh (Wangjam) and Narender (Gahlot) have, even though they are some of the youngest players in the senior team,” he informed. “That confidence is infectious, and that’s what I want to see in the senior team.”