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Qatar U-16 players ‘well prepared’ for challenges

The national team will begin their qualification campaign for the AFC U-16 Championship with a game against Bangladesh.
Football 1 Group
Under-16 national team coaches, from left, Abdelrazzaq Hedider (Qatar), Mohammed Saleh Ali (Yemen), Robert Martin Ryles (Bangladesh) and Vincent Subramaniam (Bhutan) at a press conference on Tuesday. Photo: Inside Qatar

Their seniors are the top guns in Asia and now, it is the turn of the young brigade to show their mettle.

Qatar’s under-16 team, eager to follow in the footsteps of the senior team that won the Asian title earlier this year, will face Bangladesh on Wednesday, kicking off their qualification campaign for the 2020 AFC U-16 Championship.

Qatar and Bangladesh are in Group E along with Bhutan and Yemen, with the group matches scheduled at the Aspire Dome till September 22.

Qatar coach Abdelrazzaq Hedider said he was satisfied with their preparations.

“We attended training camps both inside and outside Qatar, and my players are ready. We aim to top the group and qualify for the main event next year. This is the next generation of Qatari players, the future, and I’m pleased with how they’ve shaped up,” he said during the pre-match press conference.

His Bangladeshi counterpart, English coach Robert Martin Ryles, said the qualification round matches will give his players a chance to gain in experience.

“These boys haven’t played many competitive matches in their lives. So for them, it’ll be a good experience, and for me, it’ll be an opportunity to see how they perform under pressure. I can promise one thing, my boys will give it their all on the ground,” he said.

For Bhutan too, it will be an opportunity to learn and grow, with their coach Vincent Subramaniam stating his boys would take advantage of ‘home conditions.’

SCHEDULE

AFC UNDER-16 QUALIFIERS
GROUP E 
September 18, WednesdayYemen vs Bhutan, 4pm
Qatar vs Bangladesh, 7pm
September 20, FridayBhutan vs Bangladesh, 4pm
Qatar vs Yemen, 7pm
September 22, SundayYemen vs Bangladesh, 4pm
Qatar vs Bhutan, 7pm
All matches at Aspire Academy Dome.

“I’ve been to Aspire twice before, and it’s one of the most impressive buildings I’ve ever seen. The temperature inside is perfect and very close to what we’ve in Bhutan now. It’ll make my boys feel right at home,” he said, to peals of laughter.

But he quickly regained seriousness.

“For us, each match is important because it’s likely the only games these boys will play this year. We desperately need more match practice. These qualifiers will go a long way in helping the boys gain valuable experience,” he said.

Yemeni coach Mohammed Saleh Ali spoke about how his players would feel at home in Doha.

“As you know, we’re going through a lot of trouble back home. This game is a way for my boys to forget some of it. We’ll give it our best shot,” said the coach.

As per the format, the top side from Group E, as well as winners of 10 other groups, will directly qualify for the final rounds. The four best overall runners-up and an as-yet undecided host will make up the 16-team tournament.

If the host nation is among the 11 qualified countries, the fifth-best group runner-up will make the cut.