AFC Qualifiers: Derrick Pereira to coach India U-23 team

New Delhi: Former footballer Derrick Pereira has been named the head coach of the India U-23 team for the forthcoming AFC U-23 Qualifiers.

Pereira will be in charge of the preparatory camp in Goa which kicks-off from March 2. The team will also be playing a friendly match against Qatar U-23 national side in Doha on March 11.

All India Football Federation (AIFF) general secretary Kushal Das congratulated Derrick and said his experience will be invaluable for the U-23 National Team.

“His coaching pedigree along with AFC Pro Licence degree is the perfect recipe to guide our young players in the AFC U-23 qualifiers. We aim to qualify from the group to the AFC Championship next year, and I wish him and the team good luck,” Das said.

Pereira stated that it is an honor to be associated with the national team.

“It’s an absolute honor to get associated with the National Team set-up. I love to take challenges. I know most of the players and have seen them in action. But we need to find the right combination to perform and achieve the desired results,” he stated.

National team director Abhishek Yadav, also a former Indian national team captain, said: “The experience of Derrick Pereira as a Coach will be important for our team. The preparatory camp will be followed by a practice match against Qatar U-23 which will be a huge test.”

Pereira stressed the challenge against Qatar will be “tough.”

“They are a quality side. I have a feeling that some of the U-23 boys from Qatar will be in their 2022 World Cup squad. It will be a tough challenge which will help us prepare for future assignments,” he explained.

AFC Qualifiers are slated to be held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from March 22. Besides India, the other teams in the group are Tajikistan and Pakistan, with Uzbekistan being the hosts.

India will play their first match of the AFC Qualifiers on March 22 against Tajikistan, followed by games against Uzbekistan and Pakistan on March 24 and 26, respectively.

The list of probable are as follows:

Goalkeepers: Mohammed Nawaz, Prabhsukhan Gill, Arshdeep Singh, Dheeraj Singh.

Defenders: Nishu Kumar, Kamalpreet Singh, Provat Lakra, Boris Singh, Sajid Dhot, Sairuatkima, Sarthak Golui, Sahil Panwar, Gaurav Bora, Narender Gahlot, Mehtab Singh, Anwar Ali, Wung Muirang, Asish Rai, Jerry Lalrinzuala.

Midfielder: Liston Colaco, Lalianzuala Chhangte, Ashique Kuruniyan, Vinit Rai, Anirudh Thapa, Sahal Abdul, Amarjit Singh, Deepak Tangri, Rohit Kumar, Suresh Singh, Komal Thatal, Rahul KP.

Forwards: Daniel Lalhlimpuia, Hitesh Sharma, Rahim Ali, Samuel Lalmuanpuia, Rohit Danu, Jerry Mawihminthanga.