UAE U-19s coach Eid Baroot feels a lack of Pro-League action for his young squad could hurt the UAE’s chances at the AFC Championships, which they will host from November 3-17 this year.
The UAE, winners at the 2008 edition, have a tricky group phase to negotiate after being drawn in Group A alongside Japan, Iran and Kuwait.
With Waleed Anbar the only member of his squad playing regular first-team football with his club side, Baroot feels his young side need more competitive playing time to get their act together if the UAE hopes to do well.
“We are working hard, but the only problem is our boys are not playing regular football for their clubs in the league,” Baroot said. “Only Waleed Anbar of Emirates is playing regularly. Fahad Hadeed of Wasl is grumbling because sometimes he is playing, sometimes he isn’t playing, so this is our problem. If they get a chance to play I promise you we will have no problem. We will have a very, very strong team. The problem is you have to play, you improve when you play.”
Baroot’s boys went down to Japan and Iran in recent friendlies, but the UAE coach is not looking too much into those results as he feels his squad has only just started to come together.
“Our circumstances at the time weren’t good because the players were just coming together. But we will work hard and we’ll do well for the country. I believe the boys will qualify for the next round and then we will try our best."
He added: “There will be high expectations and this kind of pressure is good for the boys to keep them thinking of being No1; to have the trophy and win all the games, this is very important. I believe and I trust the boys very much and when the time comes to do the things they will do it.”
Group B comprises South Korea, China, Thailand and Iraq, while defending champions DPR Korea, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Jordan have been drawn in Group C. Group D boasts 2010 runners-up Australia, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Qatar.
The top four teams qualify for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey and Yousef Abdullah, the Secretary General of the UAE FA, believes the UAE will make it. “I feel the groups are equal and our aim is to go for the World Cup in Turkey in 2013,” Abdullah said.
AFC National Teams Competitions Director Shin Man-gil lauded the cooperation received from the UAE FA and said he was confident the organisers would put on a good show.
“We appreciate the UAE FA’s interest in hosting this competition. This event has been a platform for youth players to develop themselves and move up to the national team, so we are basically creating Asian football stars of the future,” Man-gil said.
A: UAE, Japan, Iran, Kuwait B: South Korea, China, Thailand, Iraq C: DPR Korea, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Jordan D: Australia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Qatar
November 3: UAE v Kuwait November 5: UAE v Iran November 7: UAE v Japan