Qatar and India Under-19 teams will clash in a friendly match in Doha on Saturday as part of their respective preparations for the 2018 AFC U-19 Championship Qualifiers.
Qatar are placed in Group C in the Asian qualifiers along with Iraq and Lebanon and will kick off their campaign at home against Lebanon on November 6 followed by the match against Iraq, two days later.
Iraq and Lebanon will begin proceedings in the group with a match on November 4.
India have been clubbed with hosts Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Turkmenistan in Group D for the continental qualifiers.
They play their first match against Saudi Arabia on November 4 followed by matches against Yemen and Turkmenistan on November 6 and 8 respectively.
The Indian team, consisting of a large chunk of players who did duty during the ongoing under-17 World Cup taking place in India and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) U-19 Academy, arrived in Qatar yesterday and were accorded warm welcome by the fans at the Hamad International Airport.
Portuguese coach Luis Norton de Matos, who was in charge of the team during the Under-17 World Cup, is the chief coach and will be assisted by Floyd Pinto, AIFF U-19 Academy coach.
After the Qatar U-19 friendly the Indian team will proceed to Dammam, Saudi Arabia for the AFC U-19 qualifiers.
Matos said the brief stopover in Qatar will serve as a preparation for the tough AFC qualifiers in Saudi Arabia.
“The team is a mixture of players from the Under-17 and under-19 squads. We hope to acclimatise with the weather and some match practice ahead of the AFC qualifiers,” said the 63-year old former Benfica youth coach.
The Portuguese said the Under-17 boys need to play in more competitions to get use to the big match temperament.
“For the Under-17 boys playing in the World Cup was there their first competitive matches, so the boys need a lot more competitions and all I can say that Indian football has a fantastic future ahead of them in the coming years,” added the Indian coach.
In the Under-17 world Cup, India lost 3-0 to USA, went down fighting 2-1 to Colombia and were outplayed 4-0 by Ghana.
By Armstrong Vas / The Peninsula
AIFF President, Mr. Praful Patel