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Preview: Matchday Two - Group A


Bangkok: After an action-packed opening day of the AFC Women’s Futsal Championship 2018 action, table-topping Thailand face Indonesia in an all-Southeast Asian affair on Friday, while Hong Kong will look to bounce back from their first up defeat with a win against debutants Macau.

INDONESIA v THAILAND

Fresh from a confidence-boosting 2-0 win over Hong Kong, Indonesia’s attention turns to a Thai side that notched the AFC Women’s Futsal Championship’s biggest ever win by putting 15 goals past Macau.

A win for either side will go a long way towards securing a place in the last eight,  Indonesian coach Kensuke Takahashi's stated aim for the tournament.

“Our first target is to advance from the group phase, so we now have to be prepared for both Thailand and Macau so that we can go through to the next stage,” he said.

‘Confidence’ was Takahashi’s pre-tournament buzzword, and with an opening-day win and with three points now in his side’s possession, the 35-year-old former Japan international believes it holds the key against a very strong Thai side.

“Maybe we’ll adjust some of the game plan against Thailand, but I think winning against Hong Kong gives the team a very good momentum and hopefully we can keep this momentum by qualifying for the next round.”

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Indonesian captain Novita Murni Pirtani echoed Takahashi’s opinion, and spoke of the positive mood in the camp ahead of Friday’s fixture against the hosts.

“We were very nervous at the start of the game (against Hong Kong), but also very confident that we could win,” said the 27-year-old, who was voted Most Valuable Player on Matchday One.

“After the first half we gained in confidence. It was very important to get that first goal and we took the momentum from there.

“Now, against one of the best teams in Asia and also the host nation, we have to be very confident, keep the momentum and play at our best to beat Thailand."

Indonesia have reason to be confident ahead of the all-Southeast Asian clash at Huamark Indoor Stadium. They were the only side to avoid defeat against Thailand at last year’s SEA Games – earning a 2-2 draw to prevent the Thais from registering a perfect four wins from four.

Fresh from his side’s 15-0 annihilation of Macau, Thailand head coach Udom Taveesuk acknowledged Indonesia would offer a far more difficult challenge, but expressed his confidence in winning the battle of the two regional rivals.

“Last August we drew with them at the SEA Games in Malaysia, and now maybe Indonesia are the same team. We don’t know,” he said, adding: “but in our team there’s a very big difference.

“It’s not only our tactics, but the insight of the players is stronger. We are confident from our side. It’s not going to be an easy game, sure, but don’t worry because we will be prepared.

“Indonesia are good, but we are more than good, and we are confident about this game.”


MACAU v HONG KONG

Hong Kong head coach Ho Wing Kam hasn’t given up on the possibility of her side reaching the AFC Women’s Futsal Championship’s Knockout Stage despite losing 2-0 to Indonesia in a game she had earmarked as the most important of their tournament.

With Macau suffering a 15-0 hiding at the hands of Thailand on Matchday One, it appears all but certain that Hong Kong must win both of their remaining Group A fixtures, starting with success against Chiang Ka Chon’s newcomers.

While insisting her focus remains squarely on Macau, Ho said she believes her team still stand a chance of progressing, even if that means needing a win against the rampant hosts.

“We are focused on this match against Macau to make sure we win and get three points,” she said.

“We’ve played against Thailand before, and I would not say it’s 100 percent certain that we will lose against Thailand. We’ll be focusing on our defence and improve our attack and hopefully we can deliver a good performance."

Macau endured a baptism of fire at the highest level of Asian futsal, conceding five goals in the opening eight minutes of their tournament debut, and head coach Chiang concedes his side has a long way to go in their development.

“Although the experience gained against Thailand is a positive, the players still don’t have enough experience in this kind of high standard of matches,” he said.

“Hong Kong are quite obviously a better team than us, so we will try to focus on our defending and get some good results.”

Despite the heavy opening-night defeat, Chiang was heartened by a 10-minute period after half-time where Macau didn’t concede a goal and almost scored one of their own.

“In the period after half-time the team showed they can defend well when they concentrate, so hopefully this next match will be more like this,” he said.