Ahead of India Under-20 football team's clash against Venezuela U-20 in the COTIF Cup in Valencia, head coach Floyd Pinto labelled the match as "pivotal for the development of the team".
Speaking to www.the-aiff.com, Floyd said: "It is a very big challenge for us to face the likes of Venezuela in a competitive environment and it provides us with an opportunity to grow and develop while experiencing competition of the highest order.
"Facing teams like Venezuela is the way ahead for us as it speeds up the player development process."
In the COTIF Cup, the Indian U-20s have lost two matches -- against local club side Murcia U-20 and Mauritania U-20. And after facing Venezuela, the Colts will square off against Argentina on Sunday.
Against Mauritania U-20, the Indian side missed five regular starters as Rahul KP, Sanjeev Stalin and Rahim Ali had to sit out due to injuries and suspensions to the two central defenders Anwar Ali and Jitendra Singh further depleted India.
"We played without Jitender and Anwar who were suspended and missed regular starters due to injuries. It is never easy to play a game without two regular central defenders but Narender and Sahil played well and gained valuable experience," Pinto said.
"The boys started off very well but Mauritania were very physical and direct. They took the lead in the first half but we kept pressing for the equaliser and we could have ended the match on level terms had we not conceded late," Floyd explained.
Goals in the 71st and 78th minutes by the African side meant that they went on to win the match 3-0.
"The desire of the boys to match strides against a strong African team was there but we fell prey to complacency and conceded on the counter attacks and obviously we are disappointed to concede those two goals," he felt.