The UAE open their Under 20 World Cup campaign on Sunday against South Africa. The match with the Group F underdogs poses their best chance of claiming a victory at the tournament. Although they failed to win any of their warm-up matches, the Asian champions will be happy to face Africa's surprise qualifiers ahead of clashes with Honduras and Hungary next week. The Al Ahli striker Ahmed Khalil, 18, will be one to watch for the tournament. He was top scorer in the Asian U20 Championship and is the Asian Young Player of the Year.
South Africa remain hopeful of causing a similar upset to the one which saw them defeat the Ivory Coast and Nigeria at the 2009 African Youth Championship to qualify for Egypt. "One thing for sure, we are going there to compete, we are going to give it our all," said South Africa midfielder Mandla Masango. "We are aware that it's not going to be easy, but we are determined to succeed and that is what matters.
"We are a good side, we have a lot of talented players and I think we can cause some upsets during the tournament." The other two sides in Group F, Honduras and Hungary meet later on Sunday evening. Honduras will try to draw inspiration from the senior side who are third in Concacaf World Cup qualifying and look good for a place in South Africa. Their youngsters have never advanced past the group stage at the U20 World Cup history, but a recent friendly draw has boosted the team's confidence.
"We are very happy and excited and full of confidence," said the Honduras midfielder Mario Martinez. "We really want to make history in this U20 World Cup." * With agencies