Mon, 30 Nov, -0001
Hamedan: Multiple training sessions and a couple of friendly matches will prove enough to ensure Tajikistan pose a serious title threat at the AFC U-14 Championship 2014, according to head coach Rajab Rasulov.
Tajikistan qualified for the finals in Iran by winning Group C which also included Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan. Apart from drawing 1-1 against hosts Nepal, they struggled to beat Afghanistan, but eased past Bhutan 15-0.
Those qualifiers were played exactly 16 months ago, and since then Rasulov has been closely monitoring his players.
“We had a long preparation campaign and this group of players has been playing together from the beginning of our qualification campaign,” said Rasulov.
“We also played a couple of friendly matches before we came here so we are well prepared and ready for the challenge.”
Tajikistan take on Thailand on Tuesday, and Thailand assistant coach Maruay Marhasaranukun has only one thing on his mind - to play as a team.
“We are well prepared and we have to play as a team to be successful. We don’t have any star players in our side but we believe in the strength of the team,” he explained.
Also in Group B are Korea Republic and Iraq who have good records in recent age-group competitions - the Koreans winning the 2012 AFC U-19 Championship for a record twelfth time by beating Iraq, and Iraq claiming this year’s AFC U-22 Championship by beating Korea Republic.
“The closed camp began two weeks ago and the training went really well,” Korea Republic coach Jeon Keyong-joon said.
“We believe in the team not in individual players, and the team has gelled really well, we hope to do our best in this tournament.”
Jeon’s counterpart Saad Hashim urged everyone to view the tournament as a platform for the players to develop and enjoy.
“These matches are like friendly matches and the philosophy of these matches must be ‘enjoyment’ for the kids.
“We are determined to show pure football to the fans who come to the stadium,” he added.