INTERIM national coach Mike Wong Mun Heng (pic) called on the national football team to keep their focus having to play in front of 50,000 spectators when they take on hosts Cambodia in the AFF (ASEAN Football Federation) Suzuki Cup qualifiers today at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh.
Brunei are in a confident mood having started their campaign with a 2-1 comeback victory over Timor Leste on Saturday.
Rufino Walter Gama gave Timor Leste an early lead before goals by Adi Said, who turned 26 on that day, and Mohammad Shafie Hj Mohd Effendy in the span of six minutes saw them claim all three points from the encounter.
On the other hand, Cambodia were also victorious by the same scoreline against Laos in the later match.
“The fans in Cambodia have been rising through the years and they are very supportive regardless of the results,” said Wong in an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday.
“We need to be very focused on what we are supposed to do tomorrow (Tuesday) and not be troubled by the big support that the hosts have. We need to cover the entire field and show our presence and be very competitive from the first whistle,” he added.
Wong felt that his charges will have to improve against Cambodia, who are favourites to make it into the tournament proper where they will compete with Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam in Group B, despite finishing in the win column.
Having taken the lead into interval, the Wasps sat in their own half much of the second half to soak in the pressure and almost paid the price in stoppage time with Timor Leste coming close to an equaliser.
“In every game, there will be positives and negatives,” said Wong. “We can’t sit too deep like the last game and we need to move the ball faster forward,” he added.
Brunei, who were without any of their professional players, fell to a 6-1 defeat to Cambodia in a friendly match in November last year at the same venue.
When asked what to watch out for against their opponents, Wong replied: “Cambodia have improved over the last seven to eight years as players from their youth development have been drafted into the national team.
“So they are tactically more sound than before. They use their wide areas well and have some good individual strong players,” added the NFABD (National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam) technical director.
It is going to be a difficult affair for Brunei considering that it normally takes more days to recover from playing on an artificial pitch. Wong has been given the additional dilemma as he may also be required to make a few changes to his line up as the duo of left-back Najib Hj Tarif and midfielder Azwan Salleh are doubtful while skipper Rosmin Hj Md Kamis, Mohammad Shafie and Ak Yura Indera Putera Pg Yunos are not at 100 per cent.
Kick off is at 7.30pm and can be caught live on RTB2 and RTB3.