Kathmandu: India have been clubbed with Pakistan and Maldives in Group A in the South Asian Football Federation under-16 football championship starting in Kathmandu from Monday. Host country Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are in Group B.
India will kick off their campaign against Pakistan in the opening match of the tournament on Monday, before taking on Maldives on August 5.
Teams finishing first and second from each group will qualify for the semifinals, while the other two will vie for the fifth and sixth places.
Both the semifinals will be played on August 8, while the third place play-off and final will be held on August 10. India coach Thomas Joseph is confident of good show from the boys and believed that his side will excel in the tournament.
"We have a balanced side and all the boys are good. We have prepared very well for this tournament and will try to put our best forward right from the outset," he said. "The condition here are different but the boys are ready to deal with any situation."
Alberto Colaco, SAFF general secretary, is confident that this endeavour will mark a new beginning for the SAFF in terms of conducting age-group tournaments.
"It's necessary to give a good exposure to the under-16 boys before they participate in the AFC under-16 qualification. The condition in the SAFF regions are not ideal as compared to Europe. But I know it's a good beginning and things will move ahead in right direction," Colaco said.