Bengaluru/Doha, March 13: Despite India's recent 0-1 away loss to Qatar in a friendly match, national Under-23 head coach Derrick Pereira praised his young side for putting up plucky display against the home side.
The tie at Doha's Aspire Academy ground, was a preparatory game for India ahead of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 Championship Qualifiers in Uzbekistan, to be held from March 22.
The team will reassemble in Goa on March 16 for a three-day camp before flying to Tashkent to lock horns with home side and reigning AFC U-23 champions Uzbekistan, followed by a match against Tajikistan at the Pakhtakor Central Stadium.
Three of the starting XI players in the match in which spectators were not allowed, were from the Indian Arrows set up, while the likes of Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, Anwar Ali, Rahul KP, and Komal Thatal were a part of the India Under-17 World Cup squad two years back.
Despite the chances created by Pereira's boys, it was Qatar, who got the breakthrough close to the half time break, when a Salmin Atiq pass from the right was met by Amro Abdelfatah Surag, who made no mistake as he bulged the back of the net.
"I'm really proud of these boys, who put in an excellent performance. They believed in themselves and performed accordingly. They were being able to keep the ball for longer durations," Pereira was quoted as saying in the AIFF website.
Pereira further went on to praise his young charges for taking the initiative in the match and creating a flurry of chances against a strong Qatar side.
"We created more chances than them. But, they just got one chance and finished it. We created at least 5 chances in the first half, while a couple in the second half. In our box, we defended quite well too," he added.
Coach @pereiraderrick says he’s proud of how the U-23 boys performed against Qatar 🇶🇦— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) March 12, 2019
Read the full story here 👉🏽 https://t.co/3KltikqVqM#BackTheBlue #StarsOfTomorrow #IndianFootball pic.twitter.com/Ea6yOqSENs
Pereira, who took over last month only, further shared that they need to focus more on converting the chances.
"We should keep our cool in front of the opposition goal. In modern day football, we've to score because we can't afford to defend throughout ninety minutes. Out of the chances that we created, three were really close opportunities and had we converted them, the result could've been very different."
(Source: AIFF Media)