Category: U-16 AFC Championship

Want to score Goals in every match, exclaims India u16 Midfielder Ravi Rana

NEW DELHI: Football in India is on the upward surge and with regions everywhere being engaged in the grassroots project, the state of Jammu and Kashmir has presented the Indian U-16 National Team with a prolific midfielder – Ravi Rana.

The teenager, who scored a hattrick on his first international cap, isn’t willing to read much into the hype surrounding him but stays focused on the task ahead, the AFC U-16 Championships. “We are here to win. We want to win. We want to create history,” he says.

Like he plays football – tearing defences with few precise passes – in a few words, Ravi explains a lot. Ever since football happened to Ravi when he was 4 years old, the midfielder hasn’t looked back. “My mother motivated me to play football and there were times when she used to take me to practice. Those days feel like a different life now.”

Ravi starred in the 2-2 draw against Bangkok Glass FC and scored the equalizing goal in Thailand from long range. Now one of the integral members of the team, the midfielder is excited to play in the AFC U-16 Championship like never before.

“It has been my dream to play in the FIFA U17 World Cup and we can play by creating history and becoming the first Indian team to qualify.”

Ravi wastes little time beating the bush and declares, “I want to score goals in every match. The joy of scoring a goal in the biggest platform in Asia will be immense.”

“But more will be the joy when we win the matches and qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. It is not impossible”, after a while he adds, “It can be done. We just need to work hard.”

The Indian U-16 National Team faces Vietnam in the opening match of the AFC U-16 Championship on September 21, 2018.

Samir Kerketta looks to make Odisha proud at AFC U16 Championship

NEW DELHI: With the AFC U-16 Championships just a few days away, the Indian team has already set sail for the Malaysian shores. As the preparations for the Colts’ biggest tournament of the year goes on in full flow, defender Samir Kerketta is one player who will be looking to shoulder the defensive responsibilities as a fullback.

What makes the tournament all the more special for Kerketta is that he is one of the two players from his state, Odisha, to be selected in the squad by coach Bibiano Fernandes.

Despite the fact that the expectations of the entire state are upon his shoulders, Kerketta is one customer who has played a number of games with this bunch of players and will be looking to use all the experience he has garnered during the exposure tours.

“The team is really focused at this stage. We all want to give our 100 percent and finish top two in the group stages,” said Kerketta. “But a quarterfinal finish is not exactly what we are looking for.”

The youngster further went on to state that the ultimate goal for the entire team is to qualify for the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup, which will be held in Peru.

“Only a semifinal finish can guarantee us a spot in the U-17 World Cup next year, and that is exactly what we are looking to achieve,” he said.

Having been one of the most reliable fixtures in Bibiano Fernandes’ starting XI over the past year, attending plenty of exposure tours, where the Blue Colts have impressed one and all.

Now the diminutive fullback will be looking to do just the same at the continental extravaganza, that gets underway in a few days in Malaysia. The India U-16 side has been grouped with Iran, Vietnam, and Indonesia in Group C.

They get their campaign underway against Vietnam on Friday, before facing title favorites Iran on Monday, September 24. Their final group game against Indonesia is on Thursday, September 27.

With History beckoning, Indian U16s Ramp-up preparations for AFC U16 Championship finals

KUALA LUMPUR (MALAYSIA): Attempting to create history by becoming the first Indian team to qualify for a FIFA World Cup, the Indian U-16 National Team under Head Coach Bibiano Fernandes is gearing up for the AFC U-16 Championship Finals, in a first, had arrived 12 days prior to the tournament in the host nation of Malaysia for proper acclimatization.

No Indian Team has ever qualified for the FIFA World Cup except by virtue of being hosts and the Indian U-16s look to script a historic footnote in Indian football by securing the semi-final spot in the AFC U-16 Championship Finals that will automatically confirm a spot in the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru.

With history beckoning, Coach Bibiano said, “The purpose of camping in Kuala Lumpur before the AFC U-16 Championship Finals was to give the boys a taste of the climate here. The boys had already been to Malaysia before for International Friendlies but we wanted them to be used to the climate before the tournament.

“We even booked the same hotel that we will be staying in for the AFC U-16 Championship Finals,” he informed.

“I need to thank the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, the AIFF General Secretary and the AIFF Director of National Teams to make this possible. It is of utmost importance that the team acclimatizes before the start of the Championship – be it the feel of the grass, the feel of the weather of the feel or the hotel.”

However, another reason behind the team’s early arrival is also of key importance. “We do not want the boys to get flustered and overwhelmed with emotion once the Championship starts,” Bibiano stated.

“We have been preparing for this Championship for a long time and now although it is at hand, we don’t want the players to be nervous. We want them to be strong and focused on the task at hand.”

The Indian U-16s in their preparation for the AFC U-16 Championship Finals had gone on exposure tours of China, Serbia, Turkey, and even Malaysia among other nations, and had played the likes of Japan, Jordan, and Serbia.

“We all know the gravity of the Championship and what it means if we qualify (for the semi-finals). We are ready and prepared all that matters now is to perform on the field of play and united we can overcome all challenges,” Bibiano informed.

Meanwhile, the Indian U-16s have had practice sessions daily after their arrival in the host nation. While the weather in Kuala Lumpur is humid with intermittent showers, the Colts are confident and aim to shine bright in the midst of the steel jungle.

Iraq crowned AFC U-16 champions with a 4-3 penalty shootout victory over Iran in final


Goa: Mohammed Dawood scored the winning spot kick as Iraq claimed a first ever AFC U-16 Championship with a 4-3 penalty shootout victory over Islamic Republic of Iran following a 0-0 draw in Sunday’s final.

Iraq shaded a goalless opening 45 minutes at Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium with top scorer Dawood twice going close.

The forward then struck the crossbar on the hour as Iraq again had the better of the half, but with no goals forthcoming the final was decided from the spot.

Trailing 3-2, Taha Shariati’s penalty was saved by reserve goalkeeper Mundher Najm, but after Muntadher Mohammed had passed up the opportunity to win it for Iraq, Dawood made no mistake in converting the 10th and final spot kick to seal victory for Qahtan Chitheer’s side,

Cheered on by a partisan support, Iraq almost went in front as early as the second minute when Alaa Adnan flicked on Ammar Mohammed’s long ball only for Dawood to fire wide from the penalty spot.

Then on 12 minutes Iran’s Allahyar Sayyad crossed for Younes Delfi, whose effort on the turn from the edge of the area was well tipped wide by goalkeeper Ali Ibadi.

Iran captain Mohammad Sharifi was then narrowly off target with his curling free-kick from 20 yards at the midway stage of the half after Muntadher Abdulsada had fouled Amir Khodamoradi.

Dawood was inches away from giving Iraq the lead minutes later, though, when his shot went the wrong side of the left post after being picked out by Habeeb Mohammed, who had burst forward with purpose from well inside his own half.


As the half wore on the Iraqis enjoyed the better of the possession and Mohammed was next to try his luck when he powered just over from distance 10 minutes before the interval.

Three minutes after the restart Adnan drilled just wide from 18 yards after the Iranian backline had failed to clear a Mohammed cross from the left, but the all-important first goal remained elusive.

Then 60 minutes in Dawood came even closer when he hit the woodwork from 20 yards as Iraq cranked up the pressure.

Abbas Chamanian brought on three-goal forward Alireza Asadabadi as Iran tried to impose themselves as an attacking force.

But as the tie entered the final 10 minutes Iraq continued to push for the winner as captain Mohammed Ridha and forward Ali Kareem were both kept out in quick succession by Iran ‘keeper Ali Gholam Zadeh.

Then in stoppage time, and with no extra time at the AFC youth event, Ibadi was taken off injured as Najm was thrust into the spotlight as the game went to penalties.

Sharifi opened the scoring for Iran and Ahmed Sartip levelled before Vahid Namdari and Abdulsada both netted.

Saeid Ahani then side-footed wide and Ali Ahmed capitalised by scoring before Najm saved from Shariati.

Mohammed missed the chance to win it for Iraq and Amirhossein Esmaeilzadeh piled the pressure on Dawood but the forward powered home the winner as Iraq won the tournament for the first time.

Iran, Iraq fight for the AFC U16 Championship silverware

AFC Media

Goa: Coach Qahtan Chitheer wants Iraq to create history in Sunday’s AFC U-16 Championship India 2016 final showdown with neighbours Islamic Republic of Iran and win the title for a first time.

Iraq have already achieved a best ever performance at the continental competition after seeing off Japan 4-2 in Thursday’s semi-final, but Chitheer believes the opportunity is there to go one better.

Standing in the West Asians’ way at Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, though, is an on-form Iran team that ousted holders DPR Korea on penalties after the sides had played out a 1-1 draw in Thursday’s other last-four clash.

Forward Mohammed Dawood has been in scintillating form, netting six times in the last three games including a hat-trick against Japan and both goals in the 2-0 quarter-final victory over Uzbekistan.

The defeat of the Central Asians ensured Iraq booked their place at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, also in India, as one of the tournament’s four highest-placed teams.

Iraq showcased their early tournament credentials in their opening game of the competition after coming from behind to claim a 2-1 victory over 2014 runners-up Korea Republic.

Chitheer’s team then played out back-to-back draws with Malaysia and Oman to qualify for the knockout stage in second place in Group C.

On the other hand, Iran coach  Abbas Chamanian has urged his team to achieve what they set out to do and win the AFC U-16 Championship India 2016 title ahead of Sunday’s final with Iraq at Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Iran sealed their place in a first final since winning the competition in 2008 after a 6-5 penalty shootout victory over defending champions DPR Korea in Thursday’s semi-final followed a 1-1 draw.

Chamanian’s side must now overcome neighbours Iraq, who ran out impressive 4-2 victors over Japan in Thursday’s other last-four fixture, if they are to claim a second continental crown.

Mohammad Sharifi’s first-half goal saw Iran go into the interval a goal to the good against DPR Korea only for Kim Pom-hyok to equalise late on and take the semi-final to penalties.

With the shootout at 5-5 goalkeeper Ali Gholam Zadeh stepped up to score before returning to his line to save from Kim Kyong-sok as the Iranians progressed to their third final at the AFC youth event.

But unable to call on injured captain Aref Alipour since Matchday Two, Chamanian now has fresh concerns over influential midfielder Mohammad Ghaderi and defender Saeid Ahani ahead of a first meeting with Iraq at the competition since a scoreless draw in the 2006 group stage.

Iran beat North Korea on penalties to set up AFC U-16 Championship final with Iraq

AFC Media

Goa: Goalkeeper Ali Gholam Zadeh was the hero as Iran booked a date with Iraq in Sunday’s AFC U-16 Championship India 2016 final after claiming a 6-5 penalty shootout win over defending champions DPR Korea following a 1-1 draw in Thursday’s semi-final.

Iran dominated the first half at Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and took a one-goal lead into the break thanks to captain Mohammad Sharifi before Kye Tam levelled the scores from the spot to take the semi-final to penalties.

With the shootout at 5-5 Gholam Zadeh scored his spot kick before returning to his line to save from Kim Kyong-sok as the 2008 champions advanced to the final for only the second time.

After starting the stronger, Abbas Chamanian’s team came close on 16 minutes as Allahyar Sayyad’s cross-goal shot evaded an outstretched Sin Tae-song in the Korean goal only to come back off the right post.

As one-way traffic ensued Iran took a deserved lead on three minutes later after Sin was penalised for picking up a back pass on the edge of the six-yard box.

Mohammad Ghaderi rolled the ensuing free-kick to Sharifi and the skipper fired in low and hard at the near post.

Iran showed no sign of letting up as Sayyad headed Amirhossein Esmaeilzadeh’s corner from the right just wide midway through the half before the frontman was again off target with a header.

The holders remained a threat, though, and substitute Kim Hwi-hwang forced Gholam Zadeh to tip round the right post after the ball broke kindly for him in the box two minutes before the interval.

DPR Korea came out with renewed purpose after the restart and captain Kim Pom-hyok drilled in a free-kick from fully 35 yards that was well dealt with by the Iran custodian before Cha Kwang was narrowly off target from the right side of the Iranian penalty area.

With the tie firmly in the balance Iran sought to give themselves breathing space and substitute Alireza Asadabadi saw his powerfully struck effort from distance on 55 minutes tipped over the crossbar.

As the half wore on, though, Yun Jong-su’s team took firm control of proceedings. Kim Hwi-hwang should have done better than head into Gholam Zadeh’s arms from seven yards after being teed up by Paek Kwang-min.

The Koreans’ superiority paid off with 11 minutes remaining when Yun Min’s free-kick was handled by Amir Khodamoradi in the Iranian wall and, after the referee pointed to the spot, Kye made no mistake in dispatching beyond the reach of Gholam Zadeh.

But substitute Younes Delfi should have won for Iran with three minutes remaining only to side-foot inches wide when one-on-one with Sin and Asadabadi did likewise in stoppage time.

With no extra time at the AFC U-16 competition the game went to penalties and Sharifi opened the scoring before Kye evened things up. Esmaeilzadeh netted but Yun Min again levelled, before both Saeid Ahani and Kim Chung-jin scored.

Sin then saved from Khodamoradi only for Gholam Zadeh to tip Cha’s effort onto the upright. Asadabadi coolly slotted home and, after the Iranian ‘keeper was adjudged to have come off his line to save from Kim Pom-hyok, the Korean captain scored the retake.

Taha Shariati and Paek scored before Gholam Zadeh side-footed home and returned to his line to save from Kim Kyong-sok and send his side through to Sunday’s finale.

Photo: AFC

Iraq through to AFC U16 Championship finale after beating Japan

AFC Media

Goa: Goa: A hat-trick from Mohammed Dawood saw Iraq end Japan’s 100% record and secure their place in the final of the AFC U-16 Championship India 2016 after an action-packed 4-2 victory over the two-time winners at GMC Stadium on Thursday.

Having netted both goals in Monday’s quarter-final win over Uzbekistan, striker Dawood gave his side the lead inside 20 minutes before a Hiroto Yamada double switched the advantage Japan’s way before half-time.

Yoshiro Moriyama’s side passed up several chances in the opening period of the second half and Muntadher Abdulsada punished their wastefulness with the leveller on 66 minutes before Dawood converted twice from the penalty spot to complete his treble and send Qahtan Chitheer’s side into Sunday’s final

Japan had not conceded in 360 minutes of football ahead of the last four clash but it took Iraq 18 minutes to break their run of clean sheets.

The ball broke to Dawood inside the penalty area and his shot from the angle took a crucial deflection of Ayumu Seko that saw the ball loop over the wrong-footed Japan ‘keeper Kosei Tani.

The East Asians replied just before the half hour mark, though, as Rei Hirakawa picked out Yamada on the right side of the box and the forward steered a fine effort across Ali Ibadi into the far corner.

And with just three minutes of the half remaining, Japan had completed the turnaround. Yamada’s low cross from the left evaded defenders, attackers and a flat-footed Ibadi alike to roll inside the custodian’s left-hand post to make the score 2-1 at the break.

In the second half, Japan continued on top and Iraq were indebted to their goalkeeper five minutes after the restart. Toichi Suzuki’s cross from the left was only cleared as far as Taisei Miyashiro but Ibadi adjusted his position instantly to divert the resulting shot wide.

Miyashiro had the Iraq custodian beaten on 55 minutes, after weaving his way into the area, but was denied Japan’s third as he thumped his rising shot against the crossbar.

The same player then passed up a second opportunity to double Japan’s advantage and Iraq punished the profligacy.

On 66 minutes, Muntadher Mohammed’s free-kick into the area was not cleared and when the ball was returned to the midfielder for a second bite at the cherry he found defender Abdulsada who fired home from close-range to restore parity.

Ibadi then saved with his knees after substitute Keito Nakamura weaved his way into the area, before Seko cleared off the line as Dawood rounded Tani with the action switching from end to end.

But with 11 minutes remaining, Iraq found the crucial third as Dawood was brought down in the area by Seko and the same player dusted himself off to fire past Tani into the roof of the net.

And in injury time, Iraq were awarded a second spot-kick as Hinata Kida brought down Dawood and the forward showed just as much composure as he had from the previous penalty kick, powering the ball home to book his nation’s place in the tournament finale.

Photo: AFC

Japan prepares to take on Iraq for a place in the AFC U-16 Championship final

AFC Media

Goa: Japan coach Yoshiro Moriyama lavished praise on semi-final opponents Iraq calling them “one of the best teams of this generation” ahead of Thursday’s AFC U-16 Championship India 2016 last eight clash at GMC Stadium.

While Japan edged the United Arab Emirates 1-0 in their quarter-final on Sunday thanks to defender Ayumu Seko’s first-half goal, Iraq cruised past Uzbekistan in their knockout stage match-up, with Mohammed Dawood scoring twice in a 2-0 scoreline that did not truly reflect the West Asians’ dominance.

And despite two-time winners Japan scoring 22 goals in four games and conceding none en route to the semi-finals, seeing off Vietnam, Kyrgyzstan, Australia and the UAE with a 100% record, Moriyama believes the final four clash could be his side’s biggest test yet.

“This Iraq team were the champions of the AFC U-14 Championship two years ago. So they are definitely one of the best teams of this generation,” said Moriyama.

“I saw their quarter-final against Uzbekistan and thought that they are a really good team. Individually they are skilled, and also play well as a group.

“It will be a tough match, but I believe that the key point for the coming match will be how to stop their aggressive offence.”

Group B winners Japan are appearing in the semi-finals for the first time since 2012 having previously won the AFC U-16 Championship in 1994 and 2006.

“Of course we want to win the tournament, and I believe that we have a chance. However, we want to think one game at a time, so all of our focus right now is to win the next game,” added Moriyama.

“The first thing is to win the next game, and then we will think about the final. It would be great if we could achieve history [by becoming the first side to win the AFC U-16 Championship three times] which would mean a lot to Japanese youth development. But we want to win the trophy first, and then people can evaluate our success.”

Prior to their quarter-final victory over Uzbekistan, Iraq had secured a victory over Korea Republic before successive draws with Malaysia and Oman that saw them finish as runners-up in Group C.

Motivated by their failure to qualify for the AFC youth tournament two years ago, coach Qahtan Chitheer believes the last three years of work with the side will continue to bear fruit in India, even against an opponent as daunting as Japan.

“Japan is a good team with exceptional players and it’s obvious they play a high level of football,” said Chitheer.

“But I believe we have a good chance in this game and we will look to implement an effective strategy and tactics to combat them.

“We will also look back at all the faults we as a team may have shown so far in this tournament and will look for solutions to our own problems.

“We are very proud to represent Arab football, as we are the last remaining Arab country in this competition, so we will try very hard to reach the final.”

Iran to face holders North Korea in the AFC U-16 Championship semi-final

AFC Media

Goa: Coach Abbas Chamanian insists Iran have yet to achieve their target at the AFC U-16 Championship India 2016 ahead of his side’s hotly anticipated semi-final clash with defending champions North Korea at Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Thursday.

The Iranians advanced to the last four for the first time since 2012 following a comprehensive 5-0 quarter-final victory over Vietnam and in doing so also secured their passage to the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India next year as one of the tournament’s four best-placed teams.

But Chamanian’s improving side now have their eyes firmly fixed on Sunday’s final as Iran aim to add to the continental crown they won for the first and only time in 2008.

“Our task isn’t finished because we haven’t reached our final goal; the results so far were just steps towards that,” said Chamanian, who will be unable to call on suspended midfielder Vahid Namdari.

“My players all want to get to the final and I expect them to play without pressure and stress and to be better than they were against Vietnam.”

Iran opened their campaign by defeating Saudi Arabia 3-2 before following up a 1-1 draw against United Arab Emirates with a 3-0 win over hosts India to top Group A.

Chamanian’s team then turned on the style against Vietnam as Allahyar Sayyad, Mohammad Ghaderi, Alireza Asadabadi and Amir Khodamoradi all got on the scoresheet.

“We know Korea are a hardworking and strong team with a big history in Asian tournaments,” added Chamanian. “They will play with energy and motivation.

“But we are only thinking of getting to the final and our players will have to play well to do that. All of Iran expects us to be there so we have no other choice except to win.”

Holders North Korea, meanwhile, scraped through to the last four, while also booking their ticket to the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, by the narrowest of margins after a 4-2 penalty shootout victory over Oman followed a 1-1 draw.

Kim Pom-hyok played a captain’s role by equalising with six minutes remaining before netting the decisive penalty as the East Asians continued their quest to win an unprecedented third AFC U-16 Championship.

“The four teams who qualified for the semi-finals are the strongest sides in the tournament,” said coach Yun Jong-su. “We have to prepare even better as I think Iran have been one of the best teams.

“We have played four tough matches and physically we’re tired so we must try and fully recover. We have to assess our quarter-final performance and again look to improve for the next match.”

The 2014 and 2010 champions played out 2-0 and 4-1 wins against Yemen and Thailand respectively before a 3-1 reversal to Uzbekistan saw Korea advance to the last eight as Group D runners-up.

Monday’s quarter-final success secured a return to the semi-final for the fifth time in seven attempts and kept alive the Koreans’ dream of also becoming the first team to win back-to-back titles.

“No one has ever won the championship two times in a row so we will try our best to become the first,” added Yun.

“But you can never be sure. We have to put in a good performance as football is all about playing well on the day.”

Iraq beat Uzbekistan to claim AFC U-16 Championship semi-final spot


Goa: Mohammed Dawood scored a brace as Iraq edged out Uzbekistan 2-0 in the quarter-finals of the AFC U-16 Championship India 2016 on Monday.

Iraq started positively at GMC Stadium, and went a goal up after just six minutes as Dawood put Qahtan Chitheer’s side in front and the West Asians hit the woodwork three times in quick succession early in the second half.

And Dawood cemented his hero status as he netted his second on the 78th minute, shortly before Shukhrat Nematov was dismissed, as Iraq secured qualification for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup also to be held in India.

The match began in open fashion and Iraq needed just six minutes to break the deadlock.

Winger Muntadher Mohammed, who has shone at the tournament so far, delivered in from the left and after ‘keeper Abduvakhid Nematov failed to clear the cross Dawood was on hand at the back post to header home.

On the half-hour mark, Dawood was denied his and Iraq’s second following a fine save from Abduvakhid Nematov after the midfielder had gone through on goal.

Dawood did try to return Mohammed’s earlier favour before half-time as he found the wide player with a deep cross of his own but the chance was spurned as the ball blazed over.

The second half began in explosive fashion as Iraq hit the woodwork three times in the opening five minutes.

From Mohammed Ridha’s corner the ball bounced off defenders and attackers alike before ricocheting off the right-hand upright.

And then in Iraq’s very next attack Ridha’s shot was parried by Abduvakhid Nematov only as far as the following up Alaa Adnan who hit the post, with Ridha having a second bite of the cherry and this time hitting the crossbar.

Uzbekistan tried to punish Iraq’s profligacy immediately but Doniyor Abdumannopov’s left-footed 20-yard effort flew narrowly wide.

On 55 minutes, Dawood was again prevented from completing his brace courtesy of a sprawling save from Abduvakhid Nematov as the action went from end-to-end.

With 15 minutes remaining, Dawood saw another chance go begging as he headed over from Mohammed’s cross as both sides looked to score the game’s crucial second goal.

But just three minutes later the same player made the breakthrough his efforts had warranted as he looped a header over Abduvakhid Nematov after substitute Ali Kareem had found his countryman inside the area.

And a miserable night for the Uzbeks was capped off in the final 10 minutes as substitute Shukhrat Nematov was sent off after receiving a second yellow.

(Credits: AFC Media)