Official Website of Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council
Brunei brace for defending champs
Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Kwon Oh-son is expecting another baptism of fire when Brunei take on two-time defending champions Malaysia in today's SEA Games football competition.

The South Korean has said that Harimau Muda, who have won back-to-back Under-23 titles at the regional meet, are as strong as Vietnam - who beat Brunei 7-0 in their tournament opener on Sunday.

Though Brunei have not lost to their neighbours by such a margin in recent memory - by comparison, Vietnam beat Brunei 8-0 at the last SEA Games in 2011 - Kwon is sure Malaysia are more than capable if they choose to.

"They are just as strong, even stronger," said the national coach when asked whether Malaysia will be an easier assignment than Vietnam.

"It's going to be a tough match, especially considering how little time we had to prepare.

"I can't rotate players because our bench isn't deep enough," he added in response to a question on whether he would rest tired legs.

Malaysia, though, have already said they plan to do just that, especially with teams playing every other day in the group stage.

With a side that includes nine of the players who were part of the squad at the last Games in Jakarta, when they beat Indonesia in the title-decider after a nervy 4-3 penalty shootout, rotating players is not a problem for Malaysia - who have already said they aim to change players from game to game to battle fatigue.

Telling Malaysian daily The Star that he considers the SEA Games men's football gold medal the "mother of all gold medals", Malaysia's coach Ong Kim Swee certainly has no illusions as to how much value countries in the region place on this particular football competition.

He did say that the defending champions can't take any team for granted.

"We always have to be careful, but at the same time not be afraid of our opponents," he told Malaysian daily Berita Harian.

"If we are scared, that will only weaken the team," he added.

Brunei face Singapore on Friday before ending their group stage campaign against Laos next Tuesday, with a semi-final slot looking unlikely if they lose to Malaysia today.

Courtesy from Brunei Times