The United Arab Emirates’ Under-16 Head Coach is in India and spoke exclusively to Khel Now…

In what is an exciting time for Indian football the country is set to play host to two major regional and world events on the bounce. The Under-17 FIFA World Cup comes home next year, but before that the AFC Under-16 Championship is set to be staged in September-October later this year.

The United Arab Emirates are one of the teams taking part in the premier youth tournament to be played in Goa and their Head Coach Abdelmajeed Alnemer is visiting India to scout accommodation and training facilities.

Reflecting on his side’s preparation ahead of the event Alnemer said that the players were working hard and that the team was progressing well. The UAE find themselves in a tough Group A along with the hosts, and regional powerhouses Iran and Saudi Arabia. Alnemer knows the competition will be tough and believes Japan are favourites to lift the crown. “Our target is to qualify for the Under-17 FIFA World Cup,” he noted.

The UAE boss is mindful of the Indian presence and feels the hosts will be well prepared for the tournament. “They are doing lots of foreign exposure tours and it will help them. Also, they have the advantage of playing at home. They will play with 12 players. The12th player will be the supporters,” he pointed out. The coach also felt it was a good opportunity for the country to unearth young talents.

Looking ahead to next year’s World Cup the UAE youth chief expressed confidence that India will host a successful event stating that it was a major opportunity for the country to prove its credentials. “It is the best chance for a nation to prove the strength of its grassroots football,” he opined. However, the gaffer did sound a note of caution when it came to infrastructure saying that there was scope for improvement at all levels.

Comparing the situation in both countries Alnemer said that while the two structures were relatively similar, in India unlike in the UAE, football plays second fiddle to cricket and also has to compete for attention with many other sports. The tactician was also generous in the praise of his country’s government for their backing of the sport. “Our government loves football. That is why we are doing well. They are ready to spend on aspects like infrastructure,” he explained.

The tournament featuring the continent’s 16 top teams begins on 15 September with the Final taking place on 2 October.

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Editorial by Khel Now Reporter Ravish Narvekar from Goa . A true Football enthusiast & a die hard Liverpool fan. Ravish also enjoys travelling & he’s an avid foodie.