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UAE eye U-20 WC berth with semis spot in Jakarta
October 18, 2018
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Jakarta: In Thursday’s AFC U-19 Championship Group A game, UAE take on Qatar with both sides looking to get their campaign off to the best possible start.

The UAE coach Ludovic Batelli, said that a place at next year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup - on offer to all the semi-finalists in Indonesia - was also a priority for the Emiratis as they chase a first title since 2008.

“We are here to qualify for the World Cup, that is everyone’s objective,” said the Frenchman.

“We have prepared very well and as it is the first match there is no real pressure. We will try to play our own style and get the best possible result.

“Since taking over as head coach in March, it has been very important to get to know the potential of each player and to create a team with a fighting spirit. I am extremely proud to be the coach of this team.”

Qatar’s coach Bruno Pinheiro said: “I think that all the teams here in Indonesia have exactly the same ambitions, that is to win the title.”

“We are ready to compete and of course we want to go as far as possible. The players are ready, and we believe in ourselves.

“We have a group (of players) that has big ambitions, works very hard and produces good football.

“Naturally, the first game is always important as (a defeat) can absolutely affect the confidence of the players, but they are focussed and determined to go far.”

Meanwhile, Indonesia head coach Indra Sjafri has declared that host nation are targeting a place in the semi-finals of the AFC U-19 Championship ahead of their Group A opener against Chinese Taipei on Thursday.

Despite featuring in 16 previous editions of the competition, Indonesia’s one and only title success came as far back as 1961, and their last appearance four years ago failed to produce a single point.

Nevertheless, with passionate home support expected at Jakarta’s Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, Sjafri believes a place in the last four is now not beyond his young charges.

“We are ready to do our very best and improve on what we did in 2014,” declared the 55-year-old whose side will also lock horns with Qatar and the UAE.

“We hope to do well in the group stage and go through to the next round as our main target is to reach the semi-finals, something Indonesia has not done for a long time now.

“My team has prepared well for the tournament and I believe that our supporters can help us achieve our objective as they can have a very positive impact on my players.”

Sjafri is, though, more than aware of threat Chinese Taipei will pose Indonesia.

“Chinese Taipei are a very hard-working team and they always give their best in every match they play. We should not forget that the teams competing at the AFC U-19 hampionship are the best in Asia.”

Meanwhile, Chinese Taipei head coach Vom Ca Nhum heads into the game looking forward to the challenge that awaits his side.

“We are very happy to be here as it has been 44 years since we have qualified for this tournament,” he said.

“It will be difficult for us, but of course, we will try our best. I know the Indonesian team and I have the greatest respect for them.

“The first game is not an easy one, but we are used to playing in front of only 100 or so spectators so it will be a great experience for my team.”

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