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Preview: Group C

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Yogyakarta: Defending champions Chonburi Bluewave are out to make tournament history by becoming the first team to win back-to-back AFC Futsal Club Championship titles.

Head coach Rakphol Sainetngamwas is confidentt the two-time champions can win the 2018 AFC Futsal Club Championship in Yogyakarta.

They open their Group C campaign against Australia’s Vic Vipers on Thursday.

“We know there is added pressure on us after winning last year’s tournament but we are on the right track and I feel our team is up for the challenge.

“Last year, we were kind of a surprise package as nobody expected us to win the tournament, plus there was no pressure and we did well.

“Our team is pretty fresh after wrapping up the Thai league and preparation has gone rather smoothly.

“Chonburi had a successful training stint in Japan where we played three matches and even though they were friendlies, we took them very seriously.

Vic Vipers will be making their third consecutive appearance in Asia’s premier club futsal tournament and head coach Milton Sakkos was optimistic about his side’s chances against Chonburi Bluewave.

“It will be a tough match against Chonburi as they are the defending champions. We know what they are capable off and we know what to expect.

In Ho Chi Minh City last year, Vic Vipers ended their campaign without a win and will be aiming to turn their fortunes around in Yogyakarta and advance past the group stage for the first time.

“This will be the third time Vic Vipers are playing in the competition and the challenge for us is to improve and advance into the next round.

“We had four months to prepare ourselves. We retained some players and added some new ones and my players are steady, fit and looking forward to this tournament.”

In Group C’s other tie, FC Erem will face Qatar’s Al-Sailiya and head coach Daniar Abdraimov is confident his charges will perform in Yogyakarta.

“My players are ready to go and we are confident of showing some improvement here in Yogyakarta.

“We know Qatar clubs are strong in this competition and we are prepared to face them in the opening match.”

The Kyrgyz Republic club will be making their second appearance following their group stage finish last year.

“We held three training camps a couple of weeks ago and so far it has gone as planned.”

FC Erem surprised many when they beat Vietnam powerhouse Thai Son Nam 5-4 in the 2017 edition group stage and followed that up with a 1-0 win over Vic Vipers.

Qatar’s Al-Sailiya will be making their debut and head coach Imran Miguel Alves Cunha was cautious of his approach towards their first match.

“We know a little bit about FC Erem as they played last year in Ho Chi Minh City and we will do our best.”

Pressure will be on Al Sailiya to perform as Qatar’s representatives have advanced to the knockout stage on six occasions since the tournament's inception in 2010.

“Our build up was good but we changed players two weeks before the tournament and it will be good for the players to get match exposure.

“We will take each match as it comes and we will see how it goes.”

Photos: AFC