Asian competitions, especially youth(male) and club competitions follow a specific division which segregates Asian nations in two halves for reducing travel time, cost & giving equal opportunities for both the zones. The one being West Zone(comprising WAFF, SAFF & CAF) and the other the East zone(ASEAN,EAF).
Indian youth(male) teams along with the clubs are a part of West Asian zone, meaning they’ll always face West Asian sides from WAFF, CAF & SAFF sub federations. Indian U-19 team hasn’t been able to make it through to the final tournament of AFC U-19 Championship since 2006 and have been already eliminated from the next edition as well, with a game to spare against Afghanistan U-19.
So, how will this game have a deep impact on the next Qualifiers in 2021?
In 2015 Qualifiers, India were placed in 3rd pot and avoided teams like Jordan , Turkmenistan & Lebanon from being drawn in their group. But, during the tournament, they lost to UAE, Palestine & Afghanistan and were positioned last in their group of 4. This led them to be seeded in pot 4 in the next Qualifiers i.e., in 2017.
In 2017, India U-19 managed to beat a pot 3 team – Turkmenistan and hence moved back to pot 3 during the next Qualifiers in 2019.
Now that India has lost its first two games, it’s important for them to beat pot 4 team – Afghanistan inorder to avoid sliding back to pot 4 and hence a harder group in 2021 Qualifiers when Bibiano’s second set of players(currently U-16) will be playing that tournament. Can Pinto’s men save the day for the future boys of Bibiano?