5 Key Takeaways From the AFC U23 Qualifiers


The AFC Colts of Team India underwent a disappointing campaign at the AFC U23 Qualifiers which were held in China from September 6th to September 12th. The group of young talents assembled after a long span of time and were led by Clifford Miranda as the Head Coach. The squad had players from different ISL and I-League clubs and its base was the Indian squad which played in the U-17 World Cup. The squad was captained by Sivasakthi Narayanan from Bengaluru FC who had a memorable season in the ISL.

Team India was clubbed with Maldives, the UAE and China PR in their group. The U23 team was scheduled to begin its campaign against Maldives in the opening match until Maldives decided to withdraw its team from the tournament due to financial restraints. Next up, India faced China PR at their home on the 9th of September and failed miserably to overcome this challenge by losing with a score line of 2-1 against them.

With a late goal at the end by China, India failed to grab any points from the match. Following that match, India faced a formidable UAE (United Arab Emirates) squad on the 12th of September. Unfortunately, the U23 Colts were not able to ensure a favourable result for us as they were defeated 3-0 against the UAE side. Overall, it was a very upsetting performance, however, Clifford Miranda & Co. will definitely look to revamp the results next time.

This article takes a look at the 5 promising takeaways from the AFC U23 Qualifiers which shall help to build the team for the next matches.

5 Key Takeaways From AFC U23 Qualifiers
Clifford Miranda & Co with the young colts at the AFC U23 Qualifiers camp

1. Extensive preparation time needed for the AFC U23 Team

The group of players who represented India in the AFC U23 Qualifiers played an international match together for the first time after about a year or so. On the other hand, their Chinese counterpart has been playing together for the last twelve matches and has successfully developed a rapport among themselves. This time around, the U23 side were able to participate in the preparatory camp for just about a week which is definitely not sufficient to develop team chemistry. In the future, the AIFF must ensure that an extensive and longer preparation time is provided for better results in international tournaments.

2. Good squad depth at the bay for Clifford Miranda

There has been the issue of squad depth in the U23, U21 and other respective age-wise squads of Team India for a very long time. However, the unit that participated in the recent AFC U23 Qualifiers had a decent squad depth which is necessary for any team. All the positions in the Indian U23 team have top-notch young talents. Additionally, there is a competitive spirit among the team to fight for their positions which will definitely assist the team in the long run. The bunch of players have a decent game-time under their belts for their respective clubs which is a positive takeaway from this tournament.

5 Key Takeaways From AFC U23 Qualifiers
India’s First XI ready to face formidable UAE in the AFC U23 Qualifiers

3. Regular playing time for the U23 squad players in their respective clubs

The team of players who were called up for AFC U23 qualifiers are regular starters for their clubs. This implies that the selected players are into the game and are getting regular play-time which is very necessary to keep them fit for the long season.

Moreover, with the addition of different tournaments in the footballing season like the Durand Cup, the Reliance Football Development League (RDFL), and the Calcutta Football League (CFL), the clubs are getting a platform to pitch in young players and give them the needed exposure. These tournaments will effectively assist the young players who might be called for the National Camps to showcase their talents and be a supply line to the first-team players.

4. Parthib Gogoi – a star in the making

Amongst the talented group of lads in the U23 squad for the AFC Qualifiers, it was undoubtedly, Parthib Gogoi who took the limelight. Although, India had a very disappointing campaign, but the ultimate player who became the spark in the dark for now and the future is Gogoi. Parthib is the new sensation of Indian football from the North-East of the nation.

5 Key Takeaways From the AFC U23 Qualifiers
Parthib Gogoi warming up before an encounter in the Durand Cup

He is very quick with the ball, has outstanding dribbling skills and is very confident with the ball in his feet. His pacy runs along with his masterful trickery caused trouble for the opponent team in this campaign. He has had some top-notch performances in the Durand Cup and will definitely be a player to look out for in the upcoming season of the ISL and the national team.

5. The un-ending spirit of fighting till the last second

One key takeaway from the AFC U23 campaign is the spirit of not giving up till the last second of the match. The bunch of players at the camp have showcased their maturity and professionalism in the two outings. In the first match, the young Indian boys fought till the last moment by absorbing the pressure and then going out in attack but conceded an unlucky goal in the final few minutes against China PR. Even though after conceding two goals against UAE, the Colts were brave enough to go all out in attack whenever they got the opportunity. They showed volumes of the fighting spirit already instilled in the young lads.

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