You don’t expect a kid to voluntarily brush his teeth before going to bed every day. But if he starts doing it, you don’t stop him. After all, he has picked up a good habit quite early.

Likewise in football, you don’t set victory as the ultimate benchmark for any Age Group Team, especially when it is U-16, or to be precise, all U-15 boys. But if you are winning games, bullying your big brothers week in and out, it becomes a habit and certainly you wouldn’t like to be a fly in the ointment!

India U-16 Team for the SAFF U-16 Championships

India U-16 Football Team for the SAFF U-16 Championships

For the SAFF U-16 Championship bound All India Football Federation (AIFF) Regional Academy Boys, the case has been precisely such. India are being represented in the Tournament by AIFF Regional Academy boys.

Riding high on the back of six consecutive victories including the 18-0 fairy tale demolition of Mohun Bagan’s U-18 Goal Project Team in their last outing before boarding the plane for Kathmandu in Nepal, the colts under Head Coach Goutam have their tails up.

“From our Technical Director, AIFF Academies, Scott (O’Donell) to the ball boy, everyone has been working towards one goal which is development,” Ghosh told www.the-aiff.com. “The graph is going in the right direction and that is all because of proper and calculated planning from Day I,” he added.

India play Sri Lanka in their first match in the SAFF U-16 Championship on Sunday. The kick-off is at IST 4.15pm.

The success mantra according to Ghosh has been working towards a common goal.

“I would not like to stress on the wins. The aim of AIFF Academies is to nurture talent for the future,” he reiterated.

“But Yes, these victories suggest that we are going on the right track. We are following the model set by Mr. Rob Baan and Mr. Scott O’Donell. From the very first day of the Camp for the SAFF Championship and AFC Qualifiers, we have been sticking to a plan,” he quipped.

These boys, who were in the U-14 Team then, impressed one and all with their 1-1 stalemate against the highly-rated Japan Football Association Academy in their own backyard last year in October in the SAARC Tournament being held in Shizuka, Japan.

Referring to the experience, Ghosh – who was then the Assistant Coach to Sajid Dar (Head Coach of the AIFF U-15 Navi Mumbai Academy) pointed out the aim now is to build a team that can compete with the best in the business ten years down the line.

“We took the lead against a top Asian side like Japan. They pegged back in time to keep us at bay. But we proved to the World in that match that we can play with the best in Asia,”

“It’s time to think of the next level now. I strongly believe that in the next ten years, with the way we are progressing, we can compete with the best,” he said.

Elucidating his assertion, Ghosh explained: “These boys started playing against same age group teams. Then gradually we played against sides with players aging between 20-22 years. When we thought that time was ripe, we crossed swords Senior players from the First Division League.”

“Results have been positive, and that’s heartening. So I am very confident that we the technical expertise we have in terms of Rob Baan and Wim Koevermans, we must am for the top and we can do it,” he assured.

Asked the importance of such Tournaments for the Boys, Ghosh said: “Its’ like an actor performing on stage after months of rehearsal. He can assess where he stands. That’s exactly the case with us. This tournament will be a good assessment and help us find the areas we need to work on.”

The 23-member Squad is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Anuj Kumar (Uttar Pradesh), Subrata Das (West Bengal), M Dheeraj Singh (Manipur)

Defenders: M Jayananda Singh (Manipur), Jerry Lalrinzuala (Mizoram), T Kishan Singh (Manipur), Prosenjit Chakraborty (West Bengal), Amit Tudu (West Bengal), Nuruddin (Uttar Pradesh), Amey Ranawade (Maharashtra)

Midfielders: Bodo Baoringdao (Assam), Kyntiew Kharlukhi (Meghalaya), Surya Tirkey (Jharkhand), Zonunmawia (Mizoram), Anirudh Thapa (Uttarakhand), Deependra Singh Negi (Uttarakhand), Aaron Rodrigues (Goa), Chanmitre Thma (Meghalaya)

Forwards: Laishram Bedashwor Singh (Manipur), Sourav Chakraborty (West Bengal), Edmund Lalrindika (Mizoram), Krishna Pandit (Chandigarh), Mohammed Hasil (Kerala).

Head Coach: Goutam Ghosh, Assistant Coach: John Kenneth Raj, Goalkeeper Coach: Feroz Sheriiff, Physiotherapist:Somya Rout, Team Manager: Subhashish Banerjee

*** By AIFF Media ***