KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 (Bernama) – Timor Leste football team’s head coach, Norio Tsukitate believes that the country needs to enhance its domestic league in order to compete against the region’s top teams.
The 59-year-old Japanese said the national teams of Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia improved vastly due to their good domestic league, hence the world number 195 needed to strengthen its league to be on par with them.
“Of course this needs money, coaches and facilities. If Timor Leste can change the domestic situation, we can become a strong national team,” he said at a pre-match press conference ahead of the second-leg clash against Malaysia tomorrow.
In the first leg of the 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup first-round qualifiers on Friday, his side faced a 1-7 drubbing by world number 168, Malaysia at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Tsukitate said his side’s chances of progressing any further in the tournament was almost gone, so he wanted his charges to improve on their performance in the return leg at the same venue tomorrow.
He said a few of his players caught flu and cough, but hoped they would display a better performance tomorrow, while admitting that some of the players in his young squad were not aware of the importance of the tournament as they fancied shopping and buying new shoes upon arriving in Malaysia.
“That is a bad mentality. Now they understand the importance of the match. They learn from this experience for the next SEA Games and other competitions,” he said.
Tsukitata had on Friday said that he was forced to bring young players, aged 18 to 20, for the campaign as the senior players were not in good shape due to lack of training and alcohol consumption.
Meanwhile, skipper Joao Pedro da Silva Freitas, 18, who scored Timor Leste’s consolation goal in the first leg, said he would eye for more goals in the second match if having the chance.
“Definitely all attacking players want to score goals, but for now I am more focused on how we can play as a team against Malaysia. If there’s any chance, I will go for a goal.
“As captain, I should be motivating my teammates. Although we lost in the first leg, we will give our best tomorrow for the sake of Timor Leste. We are still confident although it will be difficult because of the big goal difference,” said Pedro, who is fluent in Malay.