The grouping is fine for us. But we won’t underestimate Pakistan: Bryan Robson

Lahore, 4 November : Pakistan U23 team, under consultant Graham Roberts, will face Thailand U23 during the football event of XVI Asian Games to be held under Olympic Council of Asia (OCA)  at Chinese city Guangzhou from 7-26 November 2010. The opening match will be played 5 days prior to the opening ceremony at Haixinsha Island in the Pearl River. Other Pakistan’s opponents in Group-F will be Oman and Maldives.

“Moving into the knockout stages is surely possible for the Akhtar Mohiuddin coached boys from Group-F but for that a win against Maldives is a must plus good results against Thailand and the mighty Omanis.

“The grouping is fine for us. The only strong team are Oman,” said Thailand coach Bryan Robson – best known for playing in midfield for Manchester United, where he was the longest serving captain in club history. “Thailand are stronger than Pakistan and Maldives but we won’t underestimate them.” said 90-capped Englishmen who on 23 September 2009 agreed to become coach of Thailand in his first foray into international football management. He is contracted to manage Thais through to the Brazil’s  World Cup 2014.

The competition like the Olympic football tournament will be an Under-23 tournament with three over aged players allowed per squad. The players born on or after 1 January 1987 will be eligible as U23 players. The football competitions will be played across seven venues – Ying Dong Stadium, Huadu Stadium, Huangpu Stadium, Yuexiu Stadium, Guangdong People’s Stadium, Huagdong Stadium and Tianhe Stadium.

The event will see 24 teams divided into six groups of four teams each with the top two sides from each group plus the four best third placed teams making it into the Round of 16. From there on it would be a knockout tournament to win the gold medal.  Built in 1987, 60,000-capacity Tianhe stadium that hosted the final of the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991, will host the final on Friday, 26 November (8 PM Kick-off).

Defending Asian Games champions Qatar have been handed a relatively easy group in 52-match show. Qatar, who defeated Iraq 1-0 in the final of the last edition of the Asian Games held in their own backyard, are being placed in Group D alongside Kuwait, India and Singapore.

Pakistani football team was deleted from the Asian Games on 28 June, but committed President of Pakistan Football Federation  Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat won the hearts of football fraternity when he convinced the POA to include it in the contingent by offering to bear the expenses of the team’s participation in the Asian Games and National U23 team made re-entry on 27 August.

Hosts China were slotted in Group A along with Malaysia, Kyrgyzstan and Japan. Group B includes Iran, Vietnam, Bahrain and Turkmenistan while Group C comprise of Korea Republic, Palestine, Jordan and DPR Korea. Uzbekistan, UAE, Hong Kong and Bangladesh form Group E.

Draws of 16th Asian Games Football Tournament 2010

Group A
08 Nov: Malaysia v Kyrgyzstan, China PR v Japan
10 Nov: Malaysia v Japan, China PR v Kyrgyzstan
13 Nov: Kyrgyzstan v Japan, China PR v Malaysia

Group B
08 Nov: Vietnam v Bahrain, Iran v Turkmenistan
10 Nov: Vietnam v Turkmenistan, Iran v Bahrain
13 Nov: Bahrain v Turkmenistan , Iran v Vietnam

Group C
08 Nov: Korea Republic v Korea DPR, Palestine v Jordan
10 Nov: Korea Republic v Jordan, Palestine v Korea DPR
13 Nov: Korea Republic v Palestine , Jordan v Korea DPR

Group D
07 Nov:  Kuwait v India , Qatar v Singapore
09 Nov: Qatar v India, Kuwait v Singapore
11 Nov: India v Singapore, Qatar v Kuwait

Group E
07 Nov: Uzbekistan v Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates v Hong Kong
09 Nov:United Emirates v Bangladesh,  Uzbekistan v Hong Kong
11 Nov: Uzbekistan v United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong v Bangladesh

Group F
07 Nov: Maldives v Oman, Pakistan v Thailand
09 Nov: Thailand v Oman, Pakistan v Maldives
11 Nov: Pakistan v Oman, Thailand v Maldives