Sunday, September 14, 2014

S.Balachandran : Raises the bar for Malaysian Under-17

S.BALACHANDRAN has pledged to guide Malaysia to their first ever Fifa Under-17 World Cup ahead of Sunday’s quarter-final match against Australia in the AFC Under-16 Championship in Bangkok.

The winner of this match with three other semi-finalists will automatically qualify for the Under-17 World Cup in Chile next year.

Malaysia reached the last eight after finishing second to favourites South Korea in Group A with two wins and one defeat. Balachandran’s side defeated Thailand (1-0) and Oman (2-1) but lost 1-0 to South Korea.

Australia will start as favourites on Sunday following their unbeaten run in Group B. They thrashed China 3-0 before overcoming Hong Kong (2-0) and Japan (4-2).

“We have prepared for this tournament for a long time and we will fight as hard as we can to qualify for the World Cup,” Balachandran told yesterday.

“I am very happy with the fighting spirit and mental strength of my players. I believe they are ready for the difficult quarter-final match following the good run in the group.”

Balachandran said his players will use the short break to recuperate and analyse Australia’s strengths and weaknesses.

Australia coach Antony Vidmar said he did not expect his team to top their group.

“We beat Japan in our final group match yesterday (Wednesday), though, they played better than us. Credit to my boys as they worked hard but we would like to start to produce good football,” said Vidmar.

Australia have made 11 appearances in the Under-17 World Cup and their best performance was losing 8-7 to Brazil after a 0-0 draw in regulation time in the final of the 1999 edition in New Zealand.

*Taken from

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