Cambodia's national team coach Jerome Alfonsi (back row 2nd R) with the rest of the team after arriving at the Brunei International Airport yesterday for the ARFU Asian 5 Nations Division IV tournament. BT/Syarif Rasani
Cambodia's coach Jerome Alfonsi is confident they are ready to take on Mongolia and Brunei in their Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) Asian 5 Nations Division IV campaign.
Nicknamed the Koupreys, the Cambodian side will play their tournament opener against Mongolia - who outscored Brunei 38-13 on Tuesday - at the Balapan Track and Field of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas at 4pm today.
A win for Mongolia in the three-team, three-game tournament will mean that they will take the title regardless of the outcome of Brunei's match against Cambodia on Saturday. Alfonsi believes their two-month training, which saw them do two to three sessions a week, will be enough to see them rise to the occasion.
The 25-man squad also went through two tune-up matches, the first a 19-15 loss to the Saigon Geckos before picking a 40-5 win over the Cambodian Barbarians. "We are ready because we've had big preparation," Alfonsi told The Brunei Times after landing at the Brunei International Airport yesterday.
When asked how he felt about the results of the opening game, Alfonsi said that the Koupreys have a chance as he knows where Brunei stand after defeating them 38-0 and 28-0 during the Division V tournament in Cambodia last year.
"We know the level of Brunei. Last year we had two big matches against Brunei, so we have a chance," Alfonsi insisted. "If we didn't have chance we wouldn't be here.
"I'm feeling very good about the match but we still have to learn. We will improve and step by step we hope to grow to a better level," added Alfonsi. The Koupreys will have changed squad this year after replacing 12 players with a young, up and coming generation. "We have more Cambodian players and young players because we have a very good grassroots (programme) and our players are just around 18 years old," said Alfonsi.
"It's totally in our mind to improve, and to go step by step, we have to use all our young players. "We want them to play because they are very serious and motivated. And clearly we have the skill to play at this level," he added.
Mongolia's captain Dashdendev Austin Gansukh knows that today afternoon's match against Cambodia is going to be tough compared to their opener against Brunei - which was at night. Despite weather being an issue, Gansukh and his team will be heading into the clash ready for battle as they did not sustain any major injuries against Brunei.
"We won our first match so we have confidence to take away from this game, and we'll see how the next match goes," said Gansukh. Gansukh, though, did admit that Mongolia still need to make minor adjustments to their ball handling and recycling.