September 18 – The AFC Under 16 Champions kick off today in Goa, India, with four games including the hosts India against the United Arab Emirates at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, while current champions Australia will face Kyrgystan at the GMC Stadium.
The 16-team tournament is being played in four groups of four with the top two winners of each group going through to the knock-out rounds, culminating in the finals on October 2.
Added incentive for the finalists is the four teams reaching the semi-finals are guaranteed a spot at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, also in India.
The championship appropriately coincides with the AFC Congress in Goa, one of the key themes of which in recent years has been the development of national teams on the international stage. The federation chiefs will be able to witness first-hand the next generation that will lead the Asian challenge.
Favourites for the tournament inevitably include holders Australia though they are draw in a tough group with Japan who ruthlessy brushed aside all opposition in the qualifying rounds.
The team to watch in terms of goals is South Korea who scored an enormous 27 goals in their qualifying tournament.
India could be the surprise package with their coach setting an expectation of the knock-out rounds, from that point anything could happen as this nation works towards establishing a significant position on the world stage.
A – India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates
B – Australia, Japan, Vietnam, Kyrgystan
C – Korea Republic, Malaysia, Oman, Iraq
D – DPR Korea, Uzbekistan, Thailand, Yemen
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