DOHA: The Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence here has kicked off its football season with an “International U17 Tournament” which began on Tuesday.
The tournament features youth national teams of Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and the Real Madrid Juvenil B squad. The final games of the tournament will be played tonight at 8pm.
The teams have expressed thanks to Aspire Academy for hosting this high-profile event. “Events like this are very important for the players to get to know each other better on and off the pitch and we are very thankful for the invitation. Qatar is a leader in sports and what they have here at Aspire Academy is unique: Great facilities, great people and the ambition to constantly get better,” said Oman’s coach Yaqoob Alsabahi. The tournament was good preparation for Oman ahead of the upcoming AFC U-16 Championship 2014 scheduled in Bangkok this September where the side will face hosts Thailand, two-time winners Korea Republic and Malaysia.
The 16-nation competition will be played from September 6 to 20 and the top four teams will qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile next year. Making the semi-finals is also a goal that Kuwait wants to achieve. “Coming here and playing against strong teams is an important part of our preparation for Thailand. I have been coming to Aspire Academy with teams since 2006 and have gotten to know the place very well and know about the great job they are doing for sports in Qatar,” said Ibrahim Obaid, the coach of Kuwait.
While the tournament also plays an important role in the Qatar’s preparation for Thailand, where they will face former winners Iran, Syria and two-time champion Saudi Arabia — Real Madrid are using it in order to provide their “Juvenil B” side with more international experience. “We always love to come here with our teams and Aspire Academy improves players not just on a sporting level but also at a personal level,” Real Madrid coach Ruben de la Red said.