Five years after Oman's crowning glory in the Gulf Cup of Nations, the Sultanate hosts another high-profile football event – the first-ever Asian Football Confederation Under-22 Championship – featuring 16 countries, from tomorrow. Can the young Red Warriors emulate their illustrious seniors and make the country proud once again? T.A. Ameerudheen capsules the soccer treat
Football fans in Oman couldn't have asked for a better New Year gift than this. Just two weeks into 2014, they are lucky to get an opportunity to watch one of the fiercely-contested football events in the continent – the inaugural Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-22 Football Championship, which will kick-off tomorrow in Muscat.
The next 16 days promise to be a celebration of youth power as Asia's wannabe stars, representing 16 countries, will showcase their footballing prowess not only to entertain the crowd, but also help their countries assert the continental supremacy.
Japan, South Korea, Australia, Iran, United Arab Emirates and hosts Oman, who are keen to follow the footsteps of their senior counterparts, begin the competition as favourites. But it is not easy to write off others, who booked berths for the championship after a rigorous qualification process that saw the participation of 41 countries.
Hosts Oman will definitely hog the spotlight for obvious reasons. The talented youngsters, coached by Frenchman Philippe Burle, carry the weight of expectations of an entire nation on their shoulders. For, the fans will not be happy with anything less than a title victory.