Kuching: Coach Kwon Oh-son hailed his players’ second-half performance after Brunei Darussalam opened the AFC Solidarity Cup Malaysia 2016 with a comprehensive 4-0 win over Timor-Leste in Group A on Wednesday.
A heavy downpour preceded kick-off at Sarawak Stadium and both sides struggled to find their rhythm in the first 45 minutes, before substitute Azwan Ali opened the scoring on 62 minutes.
Ali’s double and a penalty from Shah Razen Said all but finished the game off before Timor-Leste’s Rufino Gama was sent off and Adi Said scored an excellent free-kick to seal victory.
“The players adapted very well to the conditions and I think this great victory can lead to others,” said Kwon. “This was about the players’ performance and they did a fantastic job out there.
“Of course it was difficult to play in those conditions but in football you have to expect the unexpected – you cannot play on nice green grass every time.
“At half-time we tried to boost their performance and emphasised to them that they could win it. Then by scoring two goals they became confident.
“Ali was not fully fit so we were a little scared, but we tried to find the best solution to play him. He scored two goals but, first of all, it was a fantastic team performance.”
Timor-Leste had the better of the first-half chances with striker Gama seeing his cross-goal effort tipped wide by Wardun Yussof four minutes before the interval and then curling narrowly wide soon after.
But despite finishing the half the stronger, Fabio Joaquim’s side failed to replicate their form after the interval and heads dropped when Ali broke the deadlock.
Gama’s dismissal then sealed a miserable second half for the Southeast Asians, who now need to avoid defeat against Nepal on Saturday to have any chance of reaching the semi-finals.
“In this kind of game it’s so difficult to play with the ball as there was so much water on the pitch,” said Joaquim. “But the players made mistakes that shouldn’t have happened.
“After we conceded we tried to fight but they lost their concentration and then we got a red card so it was difficult for us.
“I told my players they must concentrate all the time because Brunei did not create their goals, they happened because of our mistakes.
“If we scored first then the game could have been different. But in this game the teams could only play long balls and wait for the mistakes to happen, and it was us who made too many mistakes.”