Ali Ibrahim is hoping the UAE juniors and youths will be grouped with teams from the Gulf region when the draws for the 2010 Asia Football Confederations Under-16 and Under-19 Championships qualifiers are held today in Kuala Lumpur. The UAE are the defending champions in the Under-19 section after their memorable unbeaten run in Saudi Arabia last year, where they beat Uzbekistan in the finals to clinch the crown.
They are the top seeds in the 24-team West Zone, ahead of Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia and Tajikistan, while the 18-team East Zone is headed by South Korea. The nations from the West Zone will be divided into four groups of six teams each, while the East Zone will be divided into three groups. The winner and runners-up in each of the group will qualify for the 2010 AFC U19 Championship, while the best third-placed team in each of the two zones will also make it to the finals.
In the last Under-16 Championship, held in Tashkent in October, the UAE reached the last-four before "running out of steam" against eventual champions Iran. Earlier, Ali Ibrahim's side had conquered Australia in the quarter-finals to book their spot in this year's Fifa Under-17 World Cup. Ibrahim's is hoping the UAE will achieve that feat again and go one step further in the tournament itself. "Our target will be to qualify for the World Cups once again," he said. "We want to take part in every World Cup and continue the good work. Of course, I will not be with the Under-16 team at the championship.
"A new set of players and coaching staff will be taking over, but we will all be working together to achieve success. "We have been working on the juniors for a long time and we want to continue with our success." email@example.com