Favourites Iran take on Tajikistan today

7 Oct 2009 - Tajikistan will have to prove that their easy win against Bahrain on the first day of the Group 'B' AFC U-16 Cup qualifiers was no fluke when they take on the mighty Iran on Wednesday.

Tajikistan, which scored both their goals only after an opposing team player was shown red card, know Iran won't be an easy opponent. They will have to capitalise on every chance they create.

The previous match did give a glimpse of the shooting abilities of Tajikistan when they converted a free kick and a long ranger from about 35 yards out, but it also exposed their vulnerability in their inability to convert easy chances. The Central Asians, however, are on a high after their win against Bahrain.

On the other hand, Iran, the defending champions and the only nation among the five teams which has qualified for the World Cup finals on a regular basis, have a psychological advantage over their opponents: they are a feared opponent.

In the years to come many of the Iranian players in the current squad will probably be representing their country in the World Cup, which means quality football is guaranteed from the West Asians.

Apart from that Iran is probably the only team in Group 'B' that have prepared well for the tournament. At a pre-match conference, Iran coach said his team had started their preparations two years ago, and the team was also competing in the U-17 World Cup to be held in Nigeria and the Nepal event would be used as an important lead up event to the world championship.

In the day's next match, Lebanon, which had struggled for a 1-0 win over the hosts, will take on Bahrain. The match promises to be a keenly contested battle as Bahrain will aim to open their account while Lebanon will look to maintain their winning streak.

But Lebanon will have to struggle harder against Bahrain than they did against the hosts as both the teams will be physically matched, unlike the less well built Nepali players.

source: The Kathmandu Post

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