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AFC U-16 Women’s Championship qualifiers kick start

The AFC U-16 Women’s Championship qualifiers first round are just around the corner. They will determine the eight teams that will have the chance to progress to the second round of qualification.

Kyrgyzstan U16 Women's team is preparing the AFC U-16 Women's Championship qualification

This first phase comprises 30 teams which are spread across six groups, from which the group winners and two best runners-up will progress to the next round. DPR Korea, Korea Republic and Japan, who were the top three teams at the last AFC U-16 Women’s Championship, have received direct qualification to the Finals, as well as Thailand, host of the final round.

This first round will be hosted in different countries from September 15 to September 23: Bangladesh (Group F), Kyrgyz Republic (Group D), Mongolia (Group B), Nepal (Group E), Sri Lanka (Group A) and Tajikistan (Group C).

Follow AFC U-16 Women’s qualifiers on mycujoo

Group D, held in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, will be live streamed on mycujoo, a pretty tight one even if Australia is the big favourite. But the other teams, Palestine, Indonesia, Kyrgyz Republic, and Chinese Taipei are not coming to be the sparring partners of the Young Matildas. Nonetheless, Rae Dower, the Australia coach, is confident in the team he selected: "It is a balanced team with plenty of skill and creativity and we’re really looking to our first game. Some of the players are still only 13-years-old so the potential that they have is enormous. The challenge for us all is to nurture, guide, and develop them all year around as the qualification period goes beyond the next 12 months. The depth and quality of players across this age group is increasing exponentially and it is a real privilege to be able to help them take this step towards achieving their goal to one day become a Westfield Matilda".

But the hosts also have some strong objectives. The Kyrgyzes have prepared this summer playing the Women's Hopes Cup U-16, with mixed results. They beat Tajikistan 1-0, drew with Uzbekistan 2-2, but lost to Kazakhstan 5-1. However, they can count on a few players carrying a lot of hopes in the country: the defender Kadyrbek kyzy Zhanygul and the forward Almazbekova Tolgonay.

In the other groups, we will have a look at Northern Mariana Islands (Group C), certainly the minnow of the tournament, but coming with high hopes. They will face Thailand, Iran, Singapore and Tajikistan. "Leave a ‘real mark’ in Tajikistan. You may not be the better team in the AFC tournament, but you can still leave a ‘real mark’ there by battling the better team until the end. Play hard and work as a team. Show them that we can play. Every time you play in Asian Football Confederation tournaments, you’re getting us closer to that full-time AFC membership and FIFA. Prove to them that we deserve to be in the group", Patricia Coleman, a former national team player told the side.

In Group B, India will have strong opposition with Laos, Hong Kong, Mongolia and Pakistan, but the team is full of confidence after having won the SAFF U-15 tournament in August. "Every team will provide different challenges. Mongolia will have advantage as virtue of hosts. Teams such as Hong Kong are unpredictable and can hurt us with the quality they possess. Laos is going to be the biggest challenge of all and that match is going to be a key match in our campaign. We stand united. But we will have to play to the best of our abilities if we are to qualify out of the qualifiers,”, explains coach Firmin D’Souza.

Group E is probably one of the most difficult to predict, as on the face of it, it seems particularly even: Phillippines, Myanmar, Malaysia, Nepal and Syria. Myanmar head coach, Daw San San Thein, was very satisfied back in spring and full of hopes for the future when his team performed well at the AFF U16 Girls' Championship, losing only in the final against Thailand, 1-0. "My players have tried hard in each game. Myanmar U-16 team is the new generation for our national women team. I think they will be star players in future, if we can train better".

Follow AFC U-16 Women’s qualifiers on mycujoo