by Faizan Lakhani
Pakistan’s U19 Football team is hopeful of a better show in Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-19 Championship qualifiers which starts in Oman on November 22nd.
Pakistan has been placed in group A alongside Iraq, Oman, Palestine and Kuwait.
Iraq was initially announced as the host of the group, with matches scheduled to be played between 2–10 November. However, following the 2019 Iraqi protests, matches were postponed to a later time and venue, which was subsequently confirmed to be between 22 and 30 November 2019 in Oman.
U-19 footballers from Pakistan arrived in Oman on Tuesday evening and immediately started their training sessions in Muscat where their match will be played.
The team has so far held two training sessions in which players were made acclimatized with conditions.
Zayd Omar, captain of Pakistan U-19 Football Team, said that he’s hopeful of a better show in AFC Championship qualifiers and team will not let down the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) and their fans.
“We are here after having a good preparation at home, we are looked after well and that’s motivated us a lot,” said Zayd after the team’s training session.
“We won’t return win-less, players are eager to do well,” he said.
Head coach Nasir Ismail says that although teams couldn’t get the opportunity to prepare the way other teams have been preparing, it is still better than the past.
“Other teams have international exposure and they have been playing regularly. Our team practiced against local clubs in Karachi,” said Ismail.
“But I am hopeful that the month-long camp has helped players prepare well enough for the tournament,” the head coach added while hoping for aggressive football in the championship.
Pakistan will play its first match of the qualifiers against Kuwait on 22nd November before taking on Palestine on 24th, Iraq on 26th and Oman on 28th November.
Zayd and Nasir both expressed confidence that Pakistan can qualify for the main tournament.
Qatar, Tajikistan, Iran, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Australia, South Korea, Japan and Indonesia have already qualified for the main tournament after finishing at the top in different groups. Uzbekistan has also qualified for the main tournament being the hosts.
Four best runner-ups will also make it to the main tournament next year. Yemen, Laos and Vietnam are certain to qualify as second best-runner ups.
For Pakistan to qualify for the main tournament, they need to win at least two matches in group A’s qualifying matches.