The Uzbekistan and Iranian national football teams are expecting tough matches against Cambodia in the 2020 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-19 Championship.
The three countries were drawn together in Group B along with Indonesia.
In an interview with Boxscore News shortly after the AFC draw last week in Malaysia, Uzbekistan head Timur Kapadze said they are grouped together with ‘ strong teams’, though he admitted that he is unfamiliar with the style of play of both Indonesia and Cambodia.
“We don’t know how well Cambodia and Indonesia will challenge us to earn the first place in the group, but we will scrutinise their past games and tactics,” he said.
Uzbekistan and Cambodia have faced each other on the football pitch only twice in history, and not in a U-19 Championship.
The two countries played two World Cup qualifying matches 23 years ago. Uzbekistan beat Cambodia, 6-0, in their first match in May 1997, followed by a 4-1 Uzbekistan win a month later.
Likewise, Akbar Mohammadi, the head of the Youth Committee of Iran Football Federation, said like Indonesia, Cambodia should not be taken lightly.
“Our team is in a group that is not easy to win. You can say there is nothing easy in this competition, because every team has a desire to compete in the U-20 World Cup as we do. We must not underestimate the quality of teams in this group. These teams have shown their abilities throughout the qualifying rounds in their respective groups,” Akbar was quoted as saying by Indonesia’s Indeks News.
“We cannot judge Indonesia and Cambodia as opponents who can easily be defeated. Of course, we consider them as strong teams and formidable opponents. They will be our main challengers in the tournament,” he added.
The top two teams from each group will advance to the quarterfinals.
The quarter-finalists from Group B will have a tougher road going forward as they will face the top two teams from Group B. Nicknamed the ‘Group of Death’, Group B features several top contenders for the championship trophy like Japan, South Korea and Iraq.
The AFC U-19 Championship will be held in Uzbekistan from October 14 to 31. The top four teams of the tournament will qualify for the 2021 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Indonesia.