The first-ever edition of the Under-16 boys South Asian Football Federation Championships (SAFF Cup) will be played from August 1 to 10, 2011 in Kathmandu Nepal. Earlier today the draw for the two groups of six teams each was carried out.
The Pakistan U16 boys face India and the Maldives in Group A, while in Group B Sri Lanka take on hosts Nepal and Bangladesh. The matches will be played at Kathmandu’s Dasrath Stadium for the next 10 days.
SAFF General Secretary Alberto Colaco is quite confident that this endeavour will mark a new beginning for SAFF in terms of conducting age group tournaments and said, “It’s necessary to give a good exposure to the U-16 Boys before they participate in the AFC U-16 qualification.”
“The condition in the SAFF regions are not ideal as compared to Europe. But, I know it’s a good beginning and things will move ahead in right direction.” Alberto added.
Pakistan upbeat ahead India clash
KARACHI: Pakistan will face archrivals India in their Group A opener of the inaugural South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Under-16 Championships at the Dashrath Rangasala Stadium in Kathmandu on Monday (today).
According to the draws held in Kathmandu on Sunday, Pakistan, India and Maldives were placed in Group A while hosts Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were bracketed in Group B in the six-team event in which the other two member associations of the SAFF — Bhutan and Afghanistan — are not featuring.
Two teams from each group will make it to the semifinals which will be held on August 8 and the final and play-off for the third place will be played on August 10 while the play-off for the fifth place will be held on August 9.
Pakistan coach Sajjad Mehmood said on Sunday that his players are upbeat ahead of their opening game against India.
“Our players wanted their first match to be against India and they were really happy when they learnt after draws here today that they will have to meet the Indians and they are more than hundred per cent ready for tomorrow’s game,” Sajjad told ‘The News’ from Kathmandu on Sunday.
“Our Under-14 team had beaten India 4-2 in the AFC Under-14 festival of football in Iran last year and both the teams have majority of those boys in their squads which are playing in this event and we will have a psychological edge over our rivals,” said Sajjad.
The coach is confident that his strikers will live up to the expectations. “I believe that our strikers Mansoor and Bilal, who had scored eight goals in Under-14 festival in Iran last year, will convert the chances tomorrow,” he said.
But the coach added that the weather in Kathmandu is not good and in case of rain on Monday the players would face problems on the pitch which is yet to fully dry out after few days of intermittent downpour.
“Although the sun has come out today but there are few slippery patches on the pitch. A strip in the midfield and then some area in the penalty region look not good. But if the rain pours down tomorrow then it would be a big problem for both the competing sides,” Sajjad pointed out. The match starts at 2:45pm PST.
Meanwhile, India coach Thomas Joseph also voiced confidence ahead of his side’s meeting with Pakistan. “We have built up a good team and I hope that the results will be encouraging,” Joseph said.
Squad: Usman Khan, Syed Hassan Mujtaba, Muhammad Boota (all goalkeepers), Malik Dilshad Ahmed, Muneer Aftab, Shahbaz Masih, Rashid Noor, Babar Ali, Basit Amin (all defenders), Bilal Asghar, Muhammad Sohail, Sanaullah, Raza Ali, Haider Ali, Muhammad Zeeshan, Yawar (all midfielders), Sher Ali, Ashfaq Uddin, Muhammad Bilal, Zain-Ul-Aabdeen, Mansoor Khan Tanzeel (strikers), Sajjad Mahmood (coach), Muhammad Hassan Baloch (assistant coach), Dr Kamran Mehdi (physiotherapist).
August 1: India U16 – PAKISTAN U16
August 3: Maldives U16 – PAKISTAN U16
August 5: India U16 – Maldives U16
August 2: Sri Lanka U16 – Bangladesh U16
August 4: Nepal U16 – Bangladesh U16
August 6: Sri Lanka U16 – Nepal U16
August 8: Winner Group A – Runners-Up B
August 8: Winner Group B – Runners-Up A
FINAL PLACEMENT DAY
August 9: Third Placed Team Group A – Third Placed Team Group B
August 10: Loser of Semifinal 1 vs Loser of Semifinal 2
August 10: Winner of Semifinal 1 vs Winner of Semifinal 2