India face formidable Uzbekistan in AFC U-19 qualifiers
Doha: India will be looking to exorcise the ghosts of Tehran when they renew acquaintance with Uzbekistan in their third Group A encounter of the AFC U-19 Championship (Qualifiers) at the Al Arabi Stadium here Thursday.
The Indian U-16 team -- comprising of the same batch playing the U-19 competition here -- narrowly went down to eventual champions Uzbekistan in the AFC U-16 Championships in Tehran losing 2-3.
Fresh from their one-goal triumph over Nepal last Sunday, the Boys in Blue will be looking to pull off a heist against a side their head coach Joseph Toal is all praise about.
"The fact that Uzbekistan have three different Teams between the age group of 1995-1998 reflects the depth of their pool of youth players," Toal told www.the-aiff.com.
"They have a team which will play the U-17 World Cup in UAE this month; they have a U-16 and a U-19 team here in Doha. Also they have an U-20 outfit who took part in the FIFA U-20 World Cup recently and did remarkably well," added Toal.
Uzbekistan have four teams between 1993 and 1998 borns. While their U-17 unit (1996 borns) is all set to take part in the FIFA World Cup starting October 17 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), their U-20 team (1993 borns) reached the quarterfinal of the recently concluded World Cup where they went down to eventual champions France 0-4 in the last-eight stage.
The 2012 AFC U-16 Champions also have their U-16 side which will be playing in the finals of the AFC meet next year in Thailand.
Uzbekistan U-19 coach Aleksey Evstafeev rolled back seven years when he was working under Toal when the latter was in charge of the team in 2005.
"I know him well. We have worked together in Uzbekistan back in 2005," Evstafeev said when asked about what he makes of India. "It will be a good match against India. I have a lot of respect for their coach," he added.
While India sit third in the points table with three points from two matches, Uzbekistan are just behind Qatar in second position courtesy inferior goal difference as the top two sides haven’t met as yet on head-to-head count which is tallied when two teams have same number of points.
The match kicks-off at 7 p.m. India time.
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