Dubai: The UAE were handed a favourable draw against Tajikistan, Oman and Yemen as Asia’s stars of tomorrow participate in the AFC U16 Championship in Bahrain from November 25 to December 12.
The draw ceremony was held behind closed doors at AFC House in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday and the UAE were drawn in Group B alongside Tajikistan, 1996 and 2000 champions Oman and 2002 runners-up Yemen.
After missing out on the last edition in 20018, the UAE did well to qualify from Group F during the qualifiers that concluded in September last year. The UAE squeezed past Iraq 1-0, fought to a gritty 2-1 win against the Kyrgyz Republic and finally routed Lebanon 4-1 to end with a 100 per cent win record.
The UAE’s first challenge will come against Tajikistan on November 25 followed by matches against Oman (November 28) and Yemen to coincide with the UAE National Day on December 2.
Bahrain, who qualify as hosts, have not been at their best during the qualifiers, losing all three matches. India went on to top Group B although they finished with an identical seven points with Uzbekistan. India secured similar 5-0 wins against Bahrain and Turkmenistan and were held 1-1 at home by Uzbekistan.
The draw for the AFC U19 Championship in Uzbekistan was also held, with title holders Saudi Arabia being drawn in Group C with Australia, Vietnam and Laos.
South Korea, the tournament’s most successful team with 12 titles and the runners-up in 2018, were drawn in an enticing Group B along with Japan, Iraq and Bahrain.
Four-time winners Iran will have to deal with hosts Uzbekistan, Indonesia and Cambodia in Group A, while Qatar, Tajikistan, Malaysia and Yemen will tussle for the two quarter-final slots from Group D.
The U19 Championships will be held from October 14-31, 2020.
Both age group competitions are significant for the young Asian teams as the leading four sides in the AFC U-16 and AFC U-19 Championships will qualify for the scheduled editions of the Fifa U17 World Cup in Peru and U20 World Cup in Indonesia, respectively.
The 16 teams have been divided into four groups in the 19th edition of the AFC U16 Championship with hosts Bahrain in Group A along with North Korea, 2008 champions Iran and Qatar and Group B consisting of Tajikistan, Oman, Yemen and the UAE.
Group C consists of two-time champions South Korea — who finished third in 2018 — along with Australia, India and Uzbekistan, while Group D comprises of three-time defending champions Japan, Indonesia, two-time champions Saudi Arabia and China.
The best two from each of the four groups will advance to the knockout quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, title holders Saudi Arabia were drawn in Group C after the official draw for the AFC U-19 Championship Uzbekistan 2020 at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur later on Thursday. Saudi Arabia will have Australia, Vietnam, Laos for company in Group C.
AFC U16 Championship
Bahrain 2020 (November 25 to December 12)
Group A: Bahrain, DRP Korea, Iran, Qatar
Group B: Tajikistan, Oman, Yemen, UAE
Group C: South Korea, Australia, India, Uzbekistan
Group D: Japan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, China
AFC U19 Championship
Uzbekistan 2020 (October 14 to 31)
Group A: Iran, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Cambodia
Group B: Korea Republic, Japan, Iraq, Bahrain
Group C: Saudi Arabia, Australia, Vietnam, Laos
Group D: Qatar, Tajikistan, Malaysia, Yemen