While the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 is still six months away, the mood of the host team is one of concentration, mirroring that of their coach, Rashid Amir. Amir is desperate to see his teenage team succeed add their achievements to the list of the UAE’s recent successes in front of their own crowd.
A veteran of UAE football, Amir sat down with FIFA.com and discussed the importance of the tournament, the quality of the players in the competition and the boost the team is expecting from receiving country-wide fan support.
FIFA.com: How do you view the opportunity to participate in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup this year?
Rashid Amir: This is simply one of the biggest tournaments worldwide, and it’s an honour for any player or coach to be part of such a big international event. Since this tournament is being organised on home soil, we have big ambitions to achieve results that will make the UAE proud.
Almost half of the field for the tournament has been decided. What are your thoughts on the results from the qualifying tournaments going on?
I think you’re seeing how passion and willingness are rewarded, and that’s why teams like Sweden, Austria and Switzerland are right in the mix in Europe. I believe the team whicharrive in the UAE will be strong. The field will be full of very good teams.
The teams that are qualifying look to have some great players as well. Top players come from all over the world these days, and it’s very likely some of the young footballers from these European teams or Mexico or Japan will be future stars at club or international level. Maybe the Sweden team will have the next (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic? Maybe Mexico will have the next (Javier) Hernandez? That’s part of what makes this event exciting.
We hope to be up to our fans’ and supporters’ expectations, and represent our beloved country in best way possible.
What would you like to see the team accomplish in training over the next 6-7 months in the lead-up to the World Cup?
Our training has been going on for a long period already. This team has been in preparation for four years, with the UAE FA doing a fantastic job of supporting us and providing opportunities to compete against top competition. We have played almost 18 matches locally as well as big tournaments such as the AFC Championship and the Gulf Cup. These final few months are about continuing to work hard in each training session and playing as a unit.
What do you think hosting a major international event like this means for UAE football?
It is an honour for any country to host such an international competition, and I think the UAE has the capability to deliver a great event. The infrastructure of the UAE is as modern as almost any other nation in the world, and this country previously hosted the FIFA (U-20) World Cup, which I think was a great success. This is another opportunity for the UAE to impress the football world.
How important will it be to have great fan support throughout the World Cup?As we all know, fans play a vital role in any tournament, and I believe no matter how big a tournament is it can never be successful without the support of its fans. When speaking about UAE fans, I am sure they will be strongly present to support their team during every match.
As I mentioned earlier, it is going to be a long journey to the U-17 World Cup with more than 40 matches for the team to play, and this will surely motivate the fans to attend and support. We saw how great numbers of fans went all the way to Bahrain to support the national team, so I am sure since this tournament is happening on home soil the support will be no less than that.
The UAE players have got talent and they have so much to offer in this tournament. This generation has inherited a successful footballing generation, and we hope to be up to our fans’ and supporters’ expectations, and represent our beloved country in best way possible.