UAE lads qualify for AFC Under-19 Championship
The UAE Under-19 football team have qualified for the AFC Under-19 Championship to be held in Indonesia next year but celebrations have been put on hold until the last round of matches on Wednesday.
The UAE colts made the cut for the competition after winning three fixtures against Oman, Nepal and hosts Kyrgyzstan to top Group A. The Group A matches are being held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
The UAE take on Bahrain in their last group game at the Dolen Omurzakov Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The pint-sized Khalfan Hassan Al Hamadi has been the hero for the UAE, having scored in all the three fixtures.
The UAE had begun qualifying with a resounding 5-1 victory over Oman in their group opener.
Ali Saleh Amro had given UAE the lead on 12 minutes after which Ahmed Fawzi doubled it on 19 minutes. Oman pulled one back through Ahmed Jamil Al Oraimi on 28 minutes but the UAE colts chugged along with Majid Rashid Al Mehrzi adding the third on 37 minutes. Ahmed Fawzi got his second and the UAE's fourth on 78 minutes and Khalfan Hassan Al Hamadi wrapped it up with the fifth, two minutes from time.
In the next game, Khalfan Hassan Al Hamadi's strike on 71 turned out to be the winner as the UAE beat Nepal by a solitary goal.
And on Monday, the UAE defeated the hosts Kyrgyzstan 4-1. Khaled Mohammed Al Blooshi put the UAE ahead on seven minutes and then added a second on 17 minutes. Kyrgyzstan reduced the margin through Dastan Karypbekov, two minutes before the break. But the UAE proved to be too strong with Khalfan Hassan Al Hamadi on target on 67 minutes and Rashed Khalfan Mubarak scored the fourth, a minute later.
Indonesia have qualified as the hosts while China and Vietnam are the other teams to have qualified so far. China topped Group G, while Vietnam aced Group H.
Forty-three teams across 10 groups are in the midst of the qualification tournament being played across 12 cities.
The top four teams from the AFC Under-19 Championship will qualify for the 2019 FIFA Under-20 World Cup at a venue yet to be decided. India, Kenya, Mexico and Poland have submitted their bids for hosting the competition.
The UAE had won the AFC Under-19 Championship in 2008 when it was held in Saudi Arabia. Their previous best finish were third place finishes on home soil in 1985 and in South Korea 1996.
UAE Under-19 coach Ljubinko Drulovic is expected to give a run out to some of the fringe players in the squad, against Bahrain.
RESULTS SO FAR:
UAE 5 (Ali Saleh Amro 12, Ahmed Fawzi 19, 78, Majid Rashid Al Mehrzi 37, Khalfan Hassan Al Hamadi 88) beat Oman 1 (Ahmed Jamil Al Oraimi 28)
UAE 1 (Khalfan Hassan Al Hamadi 71) beat Nepal 0
UAE 4 (Khaled Mohammed Al Blooshi 7, 17, Khalfan Hassan Al Hamadi 67, Rashed Khalfan Mubarak 68) beat Kyrgyzstan 1 (Dastan Karypbekov 43)
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