BAHRAIN will not be taking anything lightly when they face Cambodia today in joint-qualifying for the Fifa World Cup 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup 2023.
This was stressed yesterday by senior men’s national team head coach Helio Sousa, who was speaking at his official pre-match Press conference in Phnom Penh.
The game is scheduled for a 2.30pm kick-off, Bahrain time, at the 50,000-capacity National Olympic Stadium in the Cambodian capital.
Sousa said that they are expecting a tough contest, but they are ready to face the challenge and hope to come home with the full three points.
“Cambodia have a very good team with good players,” Sousa said. “They played a very good game against Hong Kong, and before that they played a good game against Pakistan. We know we are going to play against a very organised team.
“We must be prepared. We came to get the victory and get the three points to be in the best way for the rest of the round.”
Both Bahrain and Cambodia are appearing in their second qualifying matches in Group ‘C’. They had earlier opened their qualification campaigns with draws last week, with the Bahrainis conceding a late goal in a 1-1 stalemate against Iraq at home and Cambodia having a similar result against Hong Kong, also at home.
Sousa noted that Cambodia may have a slight advantage in beginning tomorrow’s clash.
“At the beginning of our game, they may have an initial advantage because of the pitch which is artificial grass. We haven’t played on artificial grass,” explained the 50-year-old Portuguese tactician.
He added however that Bahrain have been playing well, under the new scheme he and his staff have implemented for the national team, and he hopes they continue to do so.
“We are starting a different team in Bahrain football,” he said. “The proposal that we are giving our players, they are accepting with great compromise. It is a different way of playing than before.
“We want to keep building and keep getting victories, and we have come here to get three more points. We have players with a lot of capacity and quality and we are trying to manage to build a good team.”
Sousa was at his Press conference alongside influential midfielder Sayed Dhiya Saeed.
Meanwhile, Cambodia’s Argentinean head coach Felix Dalmas also expects a tough fight.
“So obviously Bahrain is going to be a tough match as well,” Dalmas was quoted as saying. “They’re physically stronger and very fast. Their players are playing at a very high level. They have a very good coach as well and obviously they got to draw against Iraq so they’ll be another challenge for us. But it’s good for us to compete against higher level teams.
“What we want to do, and I’ve repeated this many times, but whether we play Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Brazil or France, we will try to play our way. And that’s something that’s really important. We really don’t want to be afraid of who is in front of us. So, we showed against Hong Kong. We will try to do it again against Bahrain and we will do it again as many times as we need.”
Sousa has called on a 23-man squad to travel to Cambodia for the match. The players are Sayed Mohammed Adnan, Abdulla Yousuf, Mohammed Al Hardan, Sayed Dhiya Saeed, Jassim Al Shaikh, Hamad Al Dosari, Ahmed Bu Ghammar, Mohammed Abdulwahab, Abdulwahab Al Maloud, Sayed Mohammed Jaffar, Waleed Al Hayam, Ismaeel Abdullatif, Ahmed Abdulla, Ali Maden, Sayed Shubar Alawi, Sayed Redha Issa, Ali Haram, Komail Alaswad, Abdullah Al Hazza, Sami Al Hussaini, Ahmed Nabil, Mohammed Adel and Issa Jihad.