Oman open AFC U-22 campaign against Myanmar today
January 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM
A view of the U-22 AFC logo.

Muscat: As the AFC Under-22 Championship is set for kick-off today, coaches from South Korea, Jordan and Myanmar have said that Oman is a strong contender in Group A.

In the opening match, North Korea will take on Yemen at the ROP Stadium at 5pm today, while the other match between South Korea and Jordan at the Seeb Sports Stadium will start at the same time.

In the third match of the day, hosts Oman will face Myanmar at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Baushar at 8pm, and UAE will meet Syria at the Seeb Sports Complex. Speaking to reporters prior to the tournament, in Muscat, South Korean coach Lee Kwang Jong said the Sultanate team is often tough to beat at home.

"We have seen some of their performances and they are among the strongest teams in this Group. They have had a good record playing at home. I am sure they are a tough team to beat here," the South Korean coach  said.

According to Jong, Oman has a seventy per cent chance of qualifying for the quarterfinal stage. "They have a very good chance to qualify to the quarters," Jong said. "They have good support from their fans here."

Jong, whose team will face Jordan today, said he has complete faith in his team.

"We have prepared well for this tournament. I am confident about my boys. They will play well. I have complete faith in them. We are ready to put forward a good show in this tournament. We are not underestimating Jordan, but it is important for us to win the first game," he said.

The new continental tournament, introduced by AFC, is the second most important championship after the Asia Cup. The 16 best teams from Asia are taking part in this tournament.
Calibre to win

Jordan coach Islam Aldiabat said the young Omani team has the potential to win the championship.

"Oman is a very strong team. They have the calibre to win this championship at home," he said.

Aldiabat added that this new tournament would benefit the young players of his side. "This is a new tournament, but I am sure it will benefit our players. The championship will certainly motivate the young players. There will be some exciting matches in the coming days. We are ready for this tournament," he said.

Oman the favourites
Myanmar coach Gerd Horst considers Oman to be the favourites of the championship. "They have a great chance to win this at home. Oman, I think, is the favourite of this tournament," Horst said.

The football team from Myanmar, according to Horst, is in the development stage.

"This is a big tournament for us. As you know, our team is quite young and we are in the development stage. Our target is to gain maximum experience from this championship by playing against some of the best teams," he said.

Oman coach Philippe Burle said his side has the responsibility to win the championship at home. "We are quite confident of doing well in this tournament. This is a new championship and Oman is hosting it. So we, as a team, have a major responsibility to do well at home," Burle said.

"Our aim is to take one match at a time and win all the games to top the Group. All these teams that are playing in this tournament have their own track record. I think these teams in our Group are strong, and that is why they are here to play in this tournament," he added.                      

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