Upbeat Bahrain face Indonesia
BAHRAIN's national soccer team will be looking to score their maiden victory today when they take on hosts Indonesia in the third round of the World Cup qualifier in Jakarta. This key clash will be held at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium and is set for 3pm (Bahrain time) kick-off.
It will be the second game for the Bahrainis, who kick-started their qualification campaign with a disappointing goalless draw against Qatar at home last Friday.
Today's clash will be crucial for Bahrain, managed by English coach Peter Taylor, who is seeking the full three points that will help them get their World Cup qualifying campaign back on track.
Leading Bahrain's hopes for today's crunch encounter are a group of experienced players, including skipper Salman Isa, midfielder Hussain Baba, defender Abdulla Al Marzooqi and striker Ismail Abdullatif.
Taylor will also rely on several overseas players, including Switzerland's Neuchattel Xamax midfielder Abdulla Omar, Qatar-based midfielder Faouzi Aaish and defender Mohammed Hussain.
Bahrain will still miss their key midfielder Mohammed Salmeen, who was sidelined from the squad after suffering an injury before the start of the qualifying competition.
Taylor's squad showed high spirit and noticeable discipline during their last training sessions yesterday at the venue of the match.
It was witnessed by Bahrain Football Association's vice-president for technical affairs Shaikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, who expressed confidence in his team's abilities to come out of the game with maximum points, adding that any other score would dampen his team's chances in the qualifying campaign.
However, Bahrain will face the daunting prospect of Jakarta's Gelora Bung Karno against an Indonesia side seeking home field advantage.
The home side can take heart from their previous 2-1 victory over Bahrain four years ago when they were one of four nations that hosted the AFC Asian Cup in the far East.
Indonesia, coached by Dutchman Wim Risjbergen, look to recover from their heavy 0-3 away defeat to Iran in their opener and hope that the intimidating atmosphere at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium would help them overcome the Bahrain team.
Uruguayan-born striker Cristian Gnozales, who scored a brace in Indonesia's 4-3 victory over Turkmenistan in the second round of the qualifying competition, will lead the South-East Asians' hopes in today's encounter.
Risjbergen will also bank on some of his other star players like veteran skipper Bambang Pamungkas, Muhammad Ridwan, Mohammed Nasuha and dangerous striker Hamka Hamza.
Meanwhile, the technical meeting of today's game was held yesterday. Attending the meeting from the Bahrain side were team manager Mohammed Al Sa'ad and administrator Adel Al Sa'adoon, who said Bahrain will play today's match in white jerseys.
The Asian Football Confederation has already named the referees team for today's match.
Lee Mun Hu of South Korea was appointed referee, along with linemen Jang Junmo, Yang Buoung Eun and fourth official Kim Sang Woo, all of South Korea. Saudi Arabia's Salman Al Nambshan is the observer