Central Asia’s next generation ready to fire
Dushanbe: Promising youngsters from throughout Central Asia have touched down in Tajikistan determined to make their mark at the 2019 CAFA U-16 Championship, which begins on Friday.
With all six Central Asian Football Association member nations competing, the tournament promises to uncover stars of the future as they fight for regional bragging rights.
A loaded 15-match schedule will play out over the course of a week in both Dushanbe and Hisor, with the team that finishes on top the points table to be crowned champions.
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With spectacular recent results at youth level – including reaching the AFC U-16 Championship Final in 2018 - host nation Tajikistan’s class of 2019 will be hoping to perform well on home soil under the tutelage of former senior international Akhliddin Turdiev.
They are likely, however, to be sternly tested from very start of their campaign, with their opening match coming against traditional regional powerhouse and reigning CAFA U-16 champion Uzbekistan, who arrive in Dushanbe fresh from a week-long training camp in Tashkent.
The Uzbek squad is led by a former international star of their own in Azamat Abduraimov, who returns to the city where he spent a season playing for CSKA Pamir Dushanbe back in 1991.
We are ready to kick off CAFA U-16 Boys Championship 2019 Tajikistan with 🇦🇫 🇮🇷 🇰🇬 🇹🇯 🇹🇲 🇺🇿 this week@theaffofficial @TeamMelliIran @_FFKR @fft_official #Turkmenistan@UzbekistanFA @theafcdotcom pic.twitter.com/zffljvGiwv— CAFA (@CAFAssociation) July 22, 2019
Elsewhere, Mohammed Reza Mahdavi will guide Islamic Republic of Iran against Batyr Shyhyyev’s Turkemnistan in Hisor on day one, while a Kyrgyz Republic squad comprised primarily of players from two Bishkek clubs – Dordoi and Ilbirs – will get their campaign up and running against Afghanistan.
The CAFA U-16 Championship will run from July 26 to August 1, with the tournament winners to be crowned following the final match between Tajikistan and Afghanistan at Dushanbe’s Central Stadium.
The tournament serves as ideal preparation for the teams ahead of the 2020 AFC U-16 Championship Qualifiers in September.
The Afghanistan U-16 team held their first training session in Tajikistan ahead of the #CAFAU16CHAMPIONSHIP2019 match against the Kyrgyz Republic team.@theaffofficial @_FFKR pic.twitter.com/3ShTQX4Fr9— CAFA (@CAFAssociation) July 24, 2019
2019 CAFA U-16 Championship – Fixtures (all times local)
July 26: Turkmenistan v IR Iran (18.00); Afghanistan v Kyrgyz Republic (18.00); Tajikistan v Uzbekistan (20.30)
July 27: Tajikistan v Kyrgyz Republic (18.00); Afghanistan v Turkmenistan (18:00); Uzbekistan v IR Iran (20:30)
July 29: Kyrgyz Republic v Uzbekistan (18.00); Tajikistan v Turkmenistan (18.00); IR Iran v Afghanistan (20.30)
July 30: Tajikistan v IR Iran (18.00); Afghanistan v Uzbekistan (18.00); Turkmenistan v Kyrgyz Republic (20.30)
August 1: Kyrgyz Republic v IR Iran (18.00); Uzbekistan v Turkmenistan (18.00); Tajikistan v Afghanistan (20.30)
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