By GRACE CHAILE LESOETSA
THE Zambia Under-20 is such a great and powerful team that has the ability to punish us out if we treat them with kid gloves, Iran’s talismanic midfielder Omid Norafkan has warned ahead of the Under-20 World Cup which kicks off tomorrow.
Norafkan is among the key players from the Iranian team to watch out for in South Korea.
But the 20-year-old disclosed in an interview with FIFA.Com that Zambia will be a difficult team to beat in Group C.
“Zambia is such a great and powerful team, while Portugal boast some talented players, like us, and there is no room for mistakes,” Norafkan said.
But the midfielder is optimistic that Iran will reach the round of 16.
He said his target was to aid the team past the group stage despite the Zambia and Portugal hurdle.
““The Asian championships gave players more experience and, in my opinion, we got some fairly good results in Bahrain. Now our next goal is the round of 16 in Korea Republic,” Norafkan said.
Iran will open the World Cup campaign on Sunday against Costa Rica before taking on Zambia on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, African champions Zambia had their first training session at Kang Chang Hak Stadium on the Island of Jeju in South Korea.
FAZ communication manager Desmond Katongo confirmed in an interview from Jeju that the team was settling well and focused on the task ahead.
“The team had one hour training in the morning and will return in the afternoon,” he said.
And Footballers and Allied Workers Union (FAWUZ) believe the Under-20 have a formidable squad that can go past the preliminary round at the tournament.
FAWUZ general secretary Linos Chalwe said the boys had showed a positive character since winning the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations in March.
Chalwe said the performance of the team in Spain during their camping was evident that the boys were focused on giving Zambia the positive results in Korea.
“I have confidence in the team that they will deliver in Korea.
Yes, we will face Portugal, Costa Rica and Iran in the group stage, but the Junior Chipolopolo can defeat these teams. The boys will definitely go past the group stage,” he said.
He hailed Government and Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) for remaining committed in ensuring the boys were well prepared for battle.
“FAZ and Government should be commended for the massive support being rendered to the squad. The support from the fans has been overwhelming which I believe has ignited the boys to work harder,” he said.
Zambia kick start the FIFA U-20 World Cup on Sunday against Portugal, with kick-off being at 06:45 hours local time.