Emirates up for Nigeria test
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Coach Ali Ebrahim has set the quarter-finals as a target for his talented youngsters who have warmed up for the global showpiece with a number of overseas training camps and friendly matches against strong opposition.

The Emirates qualified for this year's tournament after reaching the semi-finals of the Asian Youth Cup where they lost to Iran - who went on to win the regional competition.

The UAE's preparations for the finals began last August when they arranged friendly matches against Burkina Faso, Algeria and Tunisia. They also played a home friendly against Bahrain before travelling to Turkey tangle with a number of club sides. The youngsters will continue their preparations at a training camp in Nigeria before taking on Malawi on 26 October in their opening game in Group E. Their other opponents in the Group are Spain and the USA.

Speaking about his side's prospects, coach Ali Ebrahim was quoted as saying "All the teams that qualified are amongst the best in the world and we don't consider any as being weak. It's our nature to respect all our opponents. We'll be looking to be ready both physically and mentally for the start of the tournament."

Ebrahim believes that his team is currently about 90 per cent ready. "There is a determination and enthusiasm among the players. They are eager and ready to give a good account of themselves. Our recent friendly matches have taken us 90 per cent of the way there. Our starting line-up will be determined after our last training camp is completed. The boys hope to get through the first round at least and hope to put on a show for the Emirati fans in Nigeria."

Ebrahim will be looking to players like Fahad Salem, Hadaf Al-Ameriy and Mohamed Al-Khoory to earn his side a place in the final stages of the competition. But he believes the biggest problem they will face in Nigeria will be the artificial surface in Kano. "We are currently working on arranging friendly matches on artificial grass so the team is comfortable on the surface before we leave for Nigeria. Otherwise I am very optimistic," Ebrahim said, "in the last stages of preparation, there have been no problems and everything has gone well, especially the fantastic support from our FA who set up all our training matches."