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Preview: Group B 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Thai Son Nam-Training

Yogyakarta: Head coach Miguel Rodrigo is confident his Thai Son Nam side can put up a strong challenge in the 2018 AFC Futsal Club Championship.

Last year, Thai Son Nam finished third on home soil in Ho Chi Minh City and the Spaniard believes his side can improve.

“The team is ready, we have been training very hard. Vietnam players have a good work ethic, they’ve sacrificed a lot and they learn very fast.

“This group is the most difficult in the tournament. We are going to face a tough Korean team on Wednesday.”

The Vietnam outfit will be making their fifth appearance and play Korea Republic’s Jeonju MAG in their opening match.

“Everyone thinks Jeonju MAG is the weaker team but I know Lee and he is a very good coach and it’s going to be a tough match.

“Al-Dhafra FC and Nafit Al-Wasat are candidates to play in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, so it will be a challenge ... but I expect to beat Jeonju tomorrow afternoon and we will see how it goes.”

Jeonju MAG will be creating history when they open their account against Thai Son Nam as the first Korean team to make an appearance in the competition.

Head coach Lee Young Jin is confident about Jeonju’s chances.

“I can’t share my game plan here. It’s a secret! We are the new team in this competition and I agree with Miguel on his comments about me... It’s true I am a good coach.

“Miguel has been a good friend, he is always advising me and has shared a lot of knowledge..he is like my master,” quipped Lee.

“The biggest test for us is to see how fast Jeonju are against the Vietnamese players and we are Koreans, Koreans are not weak.

“I have full confidence in my players, we will just have to wait and see tomorrow. This will be the first time we are playing in this competition. The standards will be high and we will do our best.”

Nafit Al-Wasat, the 2016 runners-up, will open their account against UAE’s Al-Dhafra and head coach Haitham Abbas said they are focused.

“Two years ago we finished runners-up and last year we reached the quarter-finals. It won’t be easy but we will give it our best.

“Nafit Al-Wasat didn’t have much time to prepare for the tournament as we featured in the Iraqi League which wrapped up two weeks ago.

“We played three friendly matches in Indonesia which was good. All the teams here are very strong with good coaches and goalkeepers.”

Al-Dhafra coach Luis Fonseca Cilleros is treating the opening match against Nafit Al-Wasat like a final.

“We are very focused on the tournament especially for the first game against Nafit Al-Wasat. It’s like a final for us and my players are ready.

“Haitham and I go way back as we’ve crossed paths before during my stint in the Iraqi League and this is a tough group to be in.”

“Al-Dharfa had a good productive preparation in Bangkok where we played four matches.”

Photos: AFC