By Sports Reporter/Doha
Qatar will kick off their AFC U-19 Championship in Jakarta with a match against United Arab Emirates today. Qatar squad arrived in Indonesia on Tuesday and have had two days of training ahead of their Group A fixture at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.
The 2014 champions are drawn in Group A alongside hosts Indonesia, Chinese Taipei and UAE. After the match against UAE, Qatar face Indonesia on October 21 and Chinese Taipei on October 24 in the preliminary stages of the tournament.
A total of 16 teams have assembled in the Southeast Asian nation’s capital, with reigning champions Japan looking to retain the title they claimed two years ago in Bahrain thanks to a tense penalty shootout win against Saudi Arabia. The four highest ranked sides will also qualify for next year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland.
Qatar won the 2014 edition in Myanmar by beating North Korea in the final. The champions in 2014 later qualified to play the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup held in New Zealand. Qatar’s coach Bruno Pinheiro said he wants the current squad to repeat the heroic feat of 2014. “I think that all the teams here in Indonesia have exactly the same ambitions, that is to win the title,” explained Pinheiro.
“We are ready to compete and of course we want to go as far as possible. The players are ready, and we believe in ourselves. We have a group (of players) that has big ambitions, works very hard and produces good football. Naturally, the first game is always important as (a defeat) can absolutely affect the confidence of the players, but they are focussed and determined to go far,” he added.
Pinheiro’s opposite number, Ludovic Batelli, added that a place at next year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup – on offer to all the semi-finalists in Indonesia – was also a priority for the Emiratis as they chase a first title since 2008.
“We are here to qualify for the World Cup, that is everyone’s objective,” said the Frenchman. “We have prepared very well and as it is the first match there is no real pressure. We will try to play our own style and get the best possible result. Since taking over as head coach in March, it has been very important to get to know the potential of each player and to create a team with a fighting spirit. I am extremely proud to be the coach of this team.”
In another tomorrow, host nation Indonesia take on Chinese Taipei. This will be the AFC U-19 Championship’s 40th edition.
Qatar squad: Humam Amin, Abdullah Saie, Abdulrashid Ibrahim, Yousif Ayman, Nasser Abdelsalam, Ali Mal, Mohamed Waad, Khalid Mohamed, Hashim Ali, Khalid Waleed, Mohamed Khalid, Shihab, Mamdooh, Nasser Saleh, Ahmed Yassir, Baha Mamdooh, Yousif Razaq, Ahmed Suhail, Nasser Ber, Issa Ahmed, Adam Hamdi, Abdullah Nasser, Ahmed Janhi, Salah Zakariya, Marwan Sharif, Ahmed Minhali and Mahmoud Ibrahim. Coach: Bruno Pinheiro
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