The final round of AFC U16 Championship will be starting from the later part of this year and India’s U16 football team have to fight their way to the top against some of the heavyweight teams like Australia , South Korea and Uzebekistan in the group stages. As the young Indian team received praises and appreciation from some of the India’s great involving Chhetri, it will be interesting to watch them play in the competition that is scheduled to take place from this November.
The top four team from this prestigious tournament will get direct qualification to FIFA U21 World Cup that will take place next year in Peru. As the young lads started preparing for the event we take a close look into India’s peeformances in the previous editions of the tournament.
India set its first foot in this prestigious Continental tournament way back in 1990 when United Arab Emirates hosted the event. The young Indian team altgough managed to defeat Jordan however their straightforward defeat in the hands of China and the host resulted in a disappointing tournament for the Indian boys.
After the dismal performances in 1990, India seeked to change their fortune in the tournament six years later when Thailand hosted the event. Although India won over China this time but their overall performances in the group stages placed them at the bottom of the table thereby diminishing their chances to qualify for the next stages of the tournament.
India achieved its first ever Quarter Final berth in the tournament in their third entry in 2002 UAE edition. A win over Myanmar and a draw against the hist guided India to a Quarter Final spot and marked their best ever campaign so far which eventually got ended with a defeat to South Korea. India were back at the tournament in 2004 Japan edition only to find themselves getting eliminated from group stages. Two defeats against Kuwait and Iran ended India’s Asian dream for that editions.
India’s performances in 2008 & 2012 edition of the tournament were not satisfactory. India finished last in the group table and got eliminated on both the occasions.
India hosted the prestigious tournament for the first time in 2016. However except for the draw against heavyweights Saudi Arabia, India followed their previous traditions and bowed out of the tournament.
India’s best performances in AFC U16 Championship came two years later in 2018 when they qualified to the Quarter Finals by remaining unbeaten in the group stages. A fantastic campaign that saw fruitful victory over Vietnam and well earned draw against Indonesia and Iran was ended yet again by South Korea when they defeated the Indian colts by a solitary goal.
As the new edition of the tournament is taking place soon this year, it will be interesting to watch how this young Indian team perform in the prestigious tournament. Can the young brigade continue their fine form in the competition? Only time can tell the answer.
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