Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Asian Cup 'Group C' coaches inspect Malaysia

China, Iran and Uzbekistan are host Malaysia's opponents in Group C of the AFC Asian Cup which will be played in South East Asia from 7-29 April. All chief coaches of the three teams have been in Kuala Lumpur since Sunday for Asian Football Confederation workshops as well as to inspect the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil. The alternative Shah Alam Stadium and the training grounds at the KL Football Stadium in Cheras, MBPJ in Kelana Jaya and the FAM training ground were also inspected. “Initially, the field conditions were not up to mark. But the Football Association of Malaysia and the local organising committee have done a good job to improve the conditions over the past few months. We are confident that everything will be ready for the finals,” said AFC assistant general secretary and director of competitions, Carlo Nohra.

At the press conference reported by S Sivabalan of The Star, the coaches preferred to talk about the hot and humid conditions. Uzbekistan coach Rauf Inileer said that it was too early to talk about their preparations but hoped that they would be able to advance to the knockout stage from a tough group. Iran coach Amir Galahnoie chose to say more. “We will start our preparations 35 days before the Finals. We also intend to play four friendly matches before coming to KL,” he said.

Chinese coach Zhu Guanghu was the most vocal of the three. “There will be some changes in the team when the final list is announced. Our squad will be a mix of players from the English Premier League, Bundesliga and the national Olympic team,” he said. “We will start the final preparations once the domestic and international league are completed next month.” Guanghu added that they were pleased to play their matches in Malaysia because they could enjoy good crowd support.

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