AIFF in an official statement, on Wednesday, said that the India U-19 football team will travel to Russia in the first week of June to take part in a tournament there. The Granatkin Memorial International Football Tournament will see 12 teams participating in three groups. India have been clubbed in Group A with hosts Russia, Bulgaria, and Moldova. Teams from Argentina, Iran, Armenia, Turkey, Greece, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, among others, will also take part in the competition.

The Indian colts, coached by Floyd Pinto, will play three regulation matches against the other participants in Group A and thereon will go on to play another two play-offs, depending on their position in the group. Coach Pinto believes this tournament will be an important step for their preparation because of the quality opponents they will face. “This is going to be the first tournament where all of these boys will play as a collective unit. We are trying to have a close look at how the boys are going to take the challenge against such high-quality oppositions like Russia, Bulgaria, and Moldova”, the coach was quoted as saying by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

He further added that this competition will boost the confidence of the players ahead of the AFC U-19 qualifiers. He said, “We are very excited because this is our first chance of playing some International matches. This is a small but very important part of preparation ahead of the AFC U-19 Qualifiers in November.”

With a few boys already having played in the previous edition of the tournament, Pinto feels “their experience will come in handy”. “I’m sure the boys who played last year will help the team settle down in a much better fashion. The experience will help us be better prepared than we were in the last edition,” he said.

All the matches of Granatkin Memorial International Football Tournament will be held in the iconic Petrovsky Stadium of St. Petersberg which was earlier the home of the Russian national football team. The ground was also home of the local team Zenit St. Petersberg before the club made Gazprom Arena their official home ground.

Here is the schedule of India’s group league matches. 

June 4: India vs Russia 

June 6: India vs Moldova 

June 9: India vs Bulgaria

Here is the full 30-member India Under-19 Squad:

Goalkeepers: Prabhsukhan Singh Gill, Aryan Niraj Lamba, Raj Kumar Mahato, Sachin Ammanath Suresh, Niraj Kumar, Lalbiakhlua Jongte.

Defenders: Vanlalnghenga, Hormipam Mishra, Akash Mishra, Muhammed Rafi, Sumit Rathi, Shabas Ahammed, Moothedath, Gurkirat Singh, Narender, Jitendra Singh, Sanjeev Stalin.

Midfielders: Jeakson Singh Thounaojam, Ninthoinganba Meetei Khumanthem, Givson Singh Moirangthem, Vikram Partap Singh, Ricky John Shabong, Lalchhanhima Sailo, Sanoop Chandran, Muhammed Basith Parathodi, Robin Yadav.

Forwards: Harmanpreet Singh, Rohit Danu, Haokip Luntinmang, Ridge Melvin Demello, Lalthanmawia Renthlei.

(With inputs from AIFF)