22 December 2013

Fail to prepare, then prepare to fail

Thursday, December 19, 2013
KWON Oh-Son believes his men's lack of understanding on the pitch led to their lackluster showing at the 2013 SEA Games, the coach even calling the team “confused” and saying they “lacked confidence”.
The national Under-23 football team lost all four of their Group A games at the 27th edition of the tournament, only getting on the scoresheet in their last match, a 3-2 defeat to Laos on Tuesday.
Needless to say, they finished at the bottom of their table and end as the only side in the 10-team competition not to have picked up a point – they came up with four from a win and a draw in their five games at the 2011 edition in Indonesia.
Captained by DPMM FC Adi Said, who scored both the goals against Laos, Brunei played most of this year's marquee SEA Games event on the back foot - no surprise since the striker and midfielder Azwan Ali Rahman were the only two professional footballers in the team.
All other teams have the luxury of having players who play professionally week in, week out.
Add in the fact that Kwon said the team only started centralised training on Nov 7, just a month before their Nov 8 opener against Vietnam which ended 7-0, and it's easy to see why the coach has blamed their lack of cohesiveness for their poor results.
This lack of cohesiveness, combined with the gap in ability compared to the other countries in their group – both games against two-time defending champions Malaysia and Singapore ended 2-0 – was a sure-fire recipe for disaster.
“You could see that Laos were very sharp and prepared. They understand one another - we don’t have that,” said Kwon after the loss to Laos.
“In football (you) need months of training and many international games (to gain) experience. Attacking tactics, defensive tactics, one month is not enough for all that.
“We had many opportunities to score in our four matches but it all depends on scoring ability. Our ability was not the same (as the other teams).
“If you can't control passes, how do you want to do (passing) combinations?
“A few bad passes, not good control, the opponents counter-attack and players are confused.
“We've practised combinations and other tactics during training but during the game they lacked confidence,” said the straight-forward South Korean.
His comments, though seemingly harsh, should serve as a wake up call.
It isn’t as if the South Korean doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
After all, this is the same man who led the country to glory in another regional age-group meet last year, the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy, after beating Indonesia 2-0 in the final.
Six of the 11 who started against Laos were members of the Under-21 team which won the HBT, while 10 of the 20 names in the team list laced up last March.
And it’s not that Kwon can’t deliver at international tournaments overseas either.
Kwon took charge of the nation’s football team at another tournament in Myanmar, where the Sultanate’s display was nowhere near the one on show this month.
Guiding the senior team at the 2012 ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup qualifiers in Yangon last October, the team managed a credible six points from two wins and two losses – missing out on qualification by one point.
The Wasps kicked off with 1-0 loss to hosts Myanmar, beat Cambodia 3-2 and went down 3-1 to Laos before defeating Timor Leste 2-1 in their final match - more proof, if needed, that Kwon can produce the goods if given the right material.
While ASEAN football’s focus shifts to tonight’s crucial SEA Games semi-finals, for Brunei, there is nothing more important than a proper post-mortem for players and officials alike.
The HBT win was hailed as a new beginning for Brunei football, but it seems like everything is back to square one.

The Brunei Times

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