As the U-16 National Team left the Indian shores to compete in the four-nation International Tournament involving Jordan, Tajikistan, and hosts Serbia, Head Coach Bibiano Fernandes said “adapting to different styles of play has been the key for the boys.” In a freewheeling interview, Bibiano spoke at length about the significance of the tour, the biggest learning experience, areas of improvement, looking out for more boys and much more. EXCERPTS:
The boys are back after a vacation.
(Smiles). Yes, it was much needed. They deserved a break as they were away from home for long. They looked fresh in the five-day camp in Goa which we had prior to our departure to Serbia.
What is the significance of this tour to Serbia?
Every tour is important. It is allowing us to understand our mistakes, rectify it and build on our strengths. The tour to Serbia is all the more significant as we will be competing against Jordan and Tajikistan, both of whom have qualified for the AFC U-16 Finals. Playing against them will make us aware of the standard of play expected in the AFC U-16 Finals and help us understand where we actually stand.
What has been the biggest learning experience from the exposure tours?
Adaptability to playing against different playing styles has been the key. The playing styles in Europe are entirely different from what we experienced in Qatar, which was again different from what we experienced in Hong Kong. The boys are fortunate enough to learn and gauge all about it. So they won´t switch off when they get to play against new style in a match. They are much more prepared, both mentally and physically. The team is extremely grateful AIFF and SAI for arranging the tours for us.
What are the areas where you feel that you need to improve upon?
We need to improve on our finishing and we are working very hard on it. We are creating chances which is a good sign but it doesn´t mean anything unless you finish it off. Eventually that makes all the difference.
You are presently working with a bunch of boys. Are you still looking on for more options?
Despite the core team being there with me I am looking for options to strengthen the bench. It will give us the options if anyone succumbs to a last-minute injury. I am taking three new players to Serbia and once we are back, the boys on trial will come and join us for me to see them more on a regular basis.
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