The West Asian powerhouse were defeated in the final in the tournament’s last edition.
Iran have brought a lot of recognition toward Asian football over the years, with their inspired showing in a difficult group at the FIFA World Cup making many people talk about their development. Whilst their senior team is showing promising signs, their youth teams are among the best on the continent as well. The Iran U-16 team are among the favorites to win the AFC U-16 Championship later this month, with their potent team being one to fear for many. Iran will cause problems for all their opponents because of their superior grassroots developmental structure enabling more up and coming youth talents to come through the ranks.
About The Tournament
The AFC U-16 Championship has been the premier youth competition in Asia for the past few decades now, with the best in the continent fighting it out for the title every two years. This biennal competition has been set up by the Asian Football Confederation for the growth and benefit of the national youth teams of the member nations and is a stepping stone for them. Iran first qualified for the tournament back in 1996 and have since gone onto soar in the competition.
Iran have been moderately successful in the AFC U-16 Championship and won the tournament only once, a decade ago, when they lifted trophy in Uzbekistan. They have twice finished runners-up as well and are one of the more prominent teams heading into the tournament later this month. Iran have prepared really well throughout the year and will look to go all the way in Malaysia.
About The Team
The Iranian juniors have excelled in the qualifiers
Iran have been one of the heavyweights of the AFC U-16 Championship throughout the 21st century and have a great track-record in it over the past few tournaments. Nojavanan won the championship back in 2008 when they defeated South Korea in the final to lift their first and only title. Iran have been runners-up in the tournament twice, in 2000 and 2016. They also finished fourth in 2004 and progressed into the semi-finals back in 2012.
Last Year’s Performance
Iran had a really good outing in the last AFC U-16 Championship which was held in India back in 2016 and asserted their dominance in the group stages itself. They rolled through most of their opponents, including India and thumped Vietnam 5-0 in the knockout rounds. They managed to oust North Korea before making their first AFC U-16 Championship final in eight years, where they would face a cruel defeat by losing on penalties to Iraq.
Chamanian was also the head coach of the Iran side that played in India last year
Abbas Chamanian has been at the helm of the Iran U-16 team for the past few years now and has a lot of experience of managing youth teams in his 20+ years as a professional manager. Apart from the national youth team, Chamanian has also managed club Payam Mashhad for many years and is a big reason for the Iranian national youth teams being so strong both defensively and going forward.
Chamanian also guided Iran to a fourth-place finish in 2004 and runners-up last time around in the AFC U-16 Championship and seems to have a great eye for managing young talent. The tactician looks really serious about winning the championship this season and took his side to Italy to play friendly matches against Inter Mila and AC Milan’s teams to prepare for the tournament.
The Iranian squad which will take part in the AFC U-16 Championship has not yet been announced.
- AFC U-16 Championship Rival Watch: Indonesia
- The Indian U-16 team: Know your players, strengths, weaknesses and more!
- AFC U-16 Championship Rival Watch: Vietnam
Players To Watch
The captain of the Iran U-16 team, Alireza Bavieh will have a lot of responsibility on his shoulders heading into his first ever competitive tournament as a professional player. The Foolad FC attacking midfielder gave some really good performances in the qualifying campaign for Nojavonan, where he scored three goals in four games.
Bavieh was super impressive against Bhutan and Kyrgyzstan, with his dangerous movement and clever nature making him a persistent threat for the opposition. He has the ability to play in attacking midfield and on the wings too, if needed, with his versatility and eye for goal making him a big threat for Iran heading into the tournament.
Mahdi Seyedi proved to be a really effective midfielder for Iran during their qualifying campaign for the AFC U-16 Championship last year, with his impressive eye for goal making him stand out Not only did Seyedi prove to have able distribution skills, tricky movement and the steel needed to be a prominent midfielder, but he often popped up in promising positions to create goalscoring chances for Iran.
Seyedi scored two goals during Nojavonan’s impressive qualifying campaign, including an important one against Afghanistan, which helped them secure a place in the tournament.
Amir Jafari was among Iran’s top scorers during the AFC u-16 qualifying campaign as he completed their terrorizing midfield with his persistence to score goals and movement in the final third. Jafari proved to be a really lethal midfielder, scoring some really impressive goals in the process to help them attain qualification relatively quickly.
He scored a brace against Kyrgyzstan, but more importantly, scored the winner against Afghanistan to help Iran qualify for the tournament. Jafari seems to be a really hard-working midfielder who can go the extra mile to help his team, something which will help Chamanian a lot during the tournament.
What To Expect
Iran have had a really discreet build-up to the tournament having played against no prominent opposition prior to it and Chamanian wants to keep his opposition guessing right until the actual action begins. But, knowing the firepower they have in attack and strength in defense, Iran are the favorites to win the group stages and could go all the way in this edition.