Iran’s U-16 National Coach Hamid Alidousti mentioned that “Iran deserves to qualify,” to the final phase of the AFC U-16 Championships from Group E which is scheduled to be held in India next year.
“We respect all other teams playing here in Tabriz but I feel we deserve to qualify from the group. We certainly want it to happen,” he stated at the Official Pre-Tournament Media Interaction of the AFC U-16 Championsip India 2016 Qualifiers at Tabriz City on Tuesday (September 15).
Besides hosts Iran, India, Lebanon and Bahrain have been clubbed together in Group E. While India play the group opener against Bahrain on Wednesday (September 16), the hosts take on Lebanon later in the day.
India Head Coach Nicolai Adam, sitting next, also tipped Iran as the “favourites” to qualify from the group.
“Iran have a big football tradition,” he mentioned. “As coach of Azerbaijan we had played Iran thrice and lost on all occasions. No doubt Iran are the favourites to qualify from Group E.”
The Iranian U-16 Team head into the Championship after an intense training period of 10 months.
“We have taken part in various tournaments and exposure tours. In Belarus, we even played with U-19 Teams,” Alidousti informed. “We also took part in an invitational tournament in Japan where we finished as Champions and have played a couple of practice matches against Syria. We gained a lot of experience from the matches and are prepared.”
“However,” he added, “at this age, the difference in quality is not that big.”
Abdulsaheb Abdulnabi, Coach of Bahrain stressed that his team would “try their best to qualify” from the group.
“We have been working a lot with the players. They are all teenagers at the moment. We are focusing on technique and overall development of the players. It’s the art of the Coach to take them to the level of perfection,” he quipped.
“It’s understandable every team head into the Championship with some sort of preparation. All would try hard to achieve the goal.”
Ghoulam Ghader, Lebanon’s Head Coach echoed his “confidence” on his players.
“We are certainly not the favourites in the group. The other teams are more experienced than us. But we have come here to be competitive and I have full confidence in my players,” he pronounced.
“To me, Iran are the best team in Asia and are definitely the favourites to qualify from the group.”
Only the group winners will get an entry into the final phase of the AFC U-16 Finals to be held in Goa next year. However, India will be automatic qualifiers by virtue of being the hosts.
(Report & Photo courtesy AIFF Media)