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25th SEA Games football: a preview

Monday, November 9, 2009 , Posted by samakomlao at 5:04 PM

SEA Games: A Preview - Both Groups Present Challenges
There is no easy ride for anyone in the nine-nation tournament...

Whichever way it went, there are no longer easy grouping following the official draw announcement of the men’s football of the 25th SEA Games in Laos this morning.

Eight-times champions Thailand are in Group A alongside Vietnam, Malaysia, Timor Leste and Cambodia.In Group B are hosts Laos, Myanmar, Singapore and Indonesia.

Brunei have been banned by FIFA while the Philippines are not putting up either men‘s or women‘s team at this year‘s SEA Games.

Indonesian team manager Demis Djamaoeddin said that there are no longer easy draw at the SEA Games with all the teams taking part well prepared.

“Unlike in the past, there are no teams which you can consider as minnows,” said Demis from Palembang.

“All the teams taking part take the championship seriously and they prepare their teams for months. We are no different.

“For us, it makes no different being in either group. They are all tough. We can only prepare our team as well as possible. The rest will be decided on the day.”

Singapore have been building up steadily towards the SEA Games where their recent 6-0 win over their counterparts from Cambodia proved that their formula in having their team - the Young Lions - have regular competition in the S-League is paying off.

They are currently playing in the VFF-Smartdoor Championship in Hanoi where they had conceded a 1-0 loss to the Vietnam U23 side in their opening match.The Young Lions then held the Thai U23 side to a 1-1 draw in their second match of the meet and will wrap up the competition by taking on China U23.

The Indonesians will be relying on the Uruguayan touch to carry the team through with the enlistment of Alberto Dica while for Laos, their win of the pre-SEA Games meet despite playing against U19 sides, will be an added incentive.

Add that to the expected home crowd, then Laos could just spring a surprise - or two.

Myanmar, through their recent formation of the Myanmar national league, have allowed their U23 players more playing time and with the expected four-nation tournament later this month, they will not be short of match experience.

At the very least, Myanmar will be looking at defending the silver they win two years ago in Thailand.

With the Thais again the firm favourites to defend their crown, Vietnam will be hoping that their win of the AFF Suzuki Cup last year will give them the confidence for the task ahead.

And certainly, the Vietnam U23 side seems to be oozing with confidence where this week, they picked up the VFF-Smartdoor Cup in Hanoi after beating Singapore U23 (1-0) and then China U23 (3-1).

They will play their final round robin match against Thailand U23 with the results being inconsequential to the end result.Malaysia as always remain the dark horse with head coach K. Rajagobal saying that they will be taking it one game at a time.

“It is a tough draw, but then there’s no way we can avoid it,” added Rajagobal.

“We will look at who we will play against first and take it from there.”

Cambodia will be playing in a four-team meet in Phnom Penh this week while for Timor Leste, they are certainly capable of delivering the goods.

Timor recently qualified for the final round of the AFC U16 championships after holding China to a draw and then beating Singapore in their qualifying matches.

At the AFF Under-19 championship in Ho Chi Minh City, they played well as a unit and was just unfortunate not to make the semi-finals.

“We are improving as a whole but it is still a step by step process,” said Timor Leste president Francisco Kalbuadi.


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