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Preview - Group B: Teams counting on solid preparation

Kuala Lumpur: ‘Solid preparation to serve as a strong foundation’ was the general theme of the pre-match press conference for Group B of the AFC U-16 Championship Malaysia 2018, as DPR Korea, Jordan, Oman and Yemen kick off their campaign on Friday.

The group’s first match at the MBPJ Stadium will be an all-West Asian affair as Oman take on Yemen, and head coach Magdy Sayed Shalaby believes that his boys have put in the needed hard work in the recent months.

“We participated in the 2018 WAFF U-16 Championship last month, and played against teams like Japan, India, Jordan and Iraq. It was a good tournament where we learned a lot.

“We have seen some matches of Oman, and we hope to play better than them in their opener.

“But right now, the players are eager to make the people of Yemen happy.”

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Shalaby’s charges will be going up against an Omani side led by head coach Yaqoub Saud Saif Al Sabahi, who is no stranger to the tournament, having sat in the technical byline as an assistant coach in 2010 before being appointed head coach in 2014.

Al Sabahi’s best achievement to date is a quarter-final berth in the previous edition but while the 47-year-old coach is looking to take it one step at a time, he is also eyeing a top two spot in the group.

“Our preparation began since May. We played against Tajikistan and started local camps in Oman and Turkey, playing against India and Afghanistan. We also had a camp in Malaysia, playing with Indonesia and Australia.

“We are looking forward to qualifying from this group.”

Meanwhile, the day’s later match will feature two-time champions DPR Korea, who will face Jordan, and the East Asian side’s coach Pak Jong-chol admitted they are up against formidable opponents.

“We had two months to prepare for this tournament and I wish our players all the best.

“And I think Jordan is the strongest team in the group. We don’t much information on them.”

The respect was mutual for Jordan head coach Abdallah Samih Elqutati (pictured above) who, however, believes their year-long training and preparation will give them the upperhand.

“After the qualification in Saudi Arabia, we had over a year to prepare our team. Playing a lot of friendlies against Tunisia and Islamic Republic of Iran. We had two training camps and also participated in the WAFF U-16.

“Most importantly, we had matches against Japan, who I believe have the same style as DPR Korea, so it was a good opportunity to test ourselves.”

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