India U-16 coach Nicolai Adam wants his team to be in the best shape possible ahead of the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, and the ongoing AFC U-16 Championship Qualifiers will be one of the best possible litmus tests for his boys.
India take on hosts Iran today at Tabriz city in the second group game of the tournament.
The World Cup-bound boys made a smashing start to the ongoing Asian tournament, as they thrashed Bahrain 5-0 in the opening game on Wednesday. The full three points on the opening day took India to the top of Group E of the AFC Qualifiers, above Iran, on goal difference.
Iran U-16 got past Lebanon 3-1 in their opening game.
Looking ahead to the crucial game against Asian powerhouses Iran, Adam says India U-16 will have their work cut out, as the hosts are a far more formidable side.
On being asked to explain the strong aspects of their opponent's game today, Adam spoke to the AIFF's official website: "Firstly, they [Iran] are the hosts and that in itself is a huge advantage. Secondly, they have a long tradition of football and are one of the best teams in Asia.
"Thirdly, they have a lot of experience in terms of preparation as their head coach mentioned. They have been training for the last 10 months in different environments and that will reap the benefits for sure.
"Fourthly, they have a good coach. He has played in Germany prior and is also very much experienced about European Football which is extremely beneficial.
"Fifthly, they are much stronger, tall and very physical. It will a very tough match for us," the German coach elaborated.
The Indian colts, under Adam, had a decent showing in their exposure tour of Germany this summer. From a total of 14 matches, the Indian boys won eight, while they lost only four games, with the other two ending in draws.
Talking about the performances of his side in the exposure trip, Adam explained that the goal for his boys is to become better in every possible way, and playing matches with big teams on a regular basis will only help in the long run.
"Realistically you need to assess your own capacity in terms of performance. The goal must be to become better. And in order to see how good you are, you need to play against top teams," the German stated. "Our goal is to become the top team as we will be playing in the U-17 World Cup. It's a good way to see where we are right now."
The India senior football team lost to the Iran senior side in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Joint Qualification game on 8 September by a 3-0 margin at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bangalore. The U-16 boys will hope for a different outcome.
Where to follow the match
The AFC U-16 championship qualifier between India U16 and Iran U16 kicks off at 5 pm IST and will have no telecast or live stream. Live Updates can be followed here.