Head coach Bibiano Fernandes, on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, announced midfielder Korou Singh Thingujam as the captain of the India U-17 National Team for the AFC U-17 Asian Cup.
The 16-year-old wide-attacking midfielder was named captain of the team for the AFC U-17 Asian Cup Thailand 2023, after which the match kits for the tournament were distributed to the players, much to their amazement.
“Being the captain of India in a tournament like the AFC U-17 Asian Cup is a big responsibility, and we believe that Korou is quite capable of carrying out such leadership responsibilities,” Bibiano Fernandes said after announcing Korou as the captain of the team.
Korou, who has been with the team from the start, has increasingly become an influential player on the pitch. After scoring a goal each in the SAFF U-17 Championship and the AFC U-17 Asian Cup Qualifiers, the winger went on to put on a fine show in the team’s training matches in Spain and Germany, against the junior teams of some of the top clubs in the world, like Atletico de Madrid, Real Madrid, VfB Stuttgart, FC Augsburg, and more.
Overall, he clocked three goals and five assists in the 10 practice matches in Europe, before reaching the shores of Thailand, where he scored one and assisted another in two training games against local sides.
“It’s an absolute honour for me to be named captain in such a prestigious tournament like the AFC U-17 Asian Cup. I never thought I’d ever be given such responsibility, but I feel grateful that the coaches have seen the potential in me to lead this team,” said Korou.
For head coach Bibiano Fernandes, it was a matter of finding the best-suited player, who could not only lead the team on the pitch but off it as well.
“It’s been a process through this year and a half with this team. Peka (Vanlalpeka Guite) was the captain last year in SAFF and the AFC qualifiers,” said Fernandes. “Then some new boys came in, and we tried to rotate the captain’s armband to as many boys as possible to see who takes up the leadership role in a good manner.”
“It was also a matter of giving it to someone who the entire team loves and respects, and someone who can lead the rest of the boys both on and off the pitch. After assessing all the players in all areas, we had a meeting with the team officials and decided Korou was best suited,” he said.
“Being a captain means that one has to take responsibility for the entire team, encourage them on all occasions, and lead them through difficult times. In my books, a captain has to lead by example,” said Fernandes.
The India U-17s are currently training at the Khoya Yai Sports Complex in Thailand and will shift to the country’s capital on June 14 before the start of the AFC U-17 Asian Cup, where they are set to play Vietnam (June 17), Uzbekistan (June 20), and Japan (June 23) in Group D.