India U-16 football team to play Iraq, Japan

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New Delhi, July 30 (IANS) The Indian U-16 football team will be locking horns with defending AFC U-16 champions Iraq, Asian powerhouse Japan, a strong Jordan and Yemen in the fifth WAFF U-16 Boys Championship slated to be held at the King Abdullah II International Stadium in Jordan from August 1.

The exposure tour has been arranged by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) in coordination with the Sports Authority of India (SAI), aiming at providing a “full-proof” preparation to the U-16 boys who play in the AFC U-16 Championship Malaysia 2018 in September.

The tournament in Jordan comes on the back of the team’s exposure tours to China, Thailand and Malaysia where the boys played six matches against U-16 national teams and more against club sides since July.

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National Team Director Abhishek Yadav said the primary objective was to provide the team some exposure against sides who have qualified for the AFC U-16 Championship.

“The U-16 WAFF Championship has teams which have qualified for the 2018 AFC U-16 Championship. We are entering the last phase of preparation and one of our key targets since January was to give the coach an opportunity to play against teams who have qualified for the 2018 Championship.”

“If all goes as per plan in August, we would have played against half the Championship-qualified teams at least once,” Yadav, who has captained the senior national team, said.

“The significance of this tournament lies in the fact that it brings together teams qualified for the 2018 AFC U-16 Championship, all in their last leg of preparations,” Yadav added.

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“Our boys will get a chance to play Iraq, the U-16 defending champions. That doesn’t happen every day. On top of it, we will also be playing Japan, perhaps the best U-16 Team in Asia.”

“We have to thank WAFF for inviting us in what is essentially a tournament for West Asian national teams. We are working intently on improving existing relations to ensure the best possible opportunities for our male and female teams,” he added.

–IANS

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