BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Following the conclusion of the 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup draw on Wednesday, Group G drew a lot of the attention simply for the fact that all but one of the five teams in the group are Southeast Asian sides; Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand.
Speaking to the press following the draw that was held at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Indonesia head coach Simon McMenemy revealed what he thinks is the key to triumphing in the group, at least over the other regional rivals.
"There will be a lot of interesting games. I suppose we all know each other very well; Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia have played each other so many times. I don't think there are many secrets, many things that have gone unnoticed, it's going to come down to whether the players are able to rise to the occasion on the day.
"I'm sure the coaches will do their due diligence, but they already know so much of each other. It's going to be very interesting, home games will be crucial, making sure you can take advantage of playing at home," explained the 41-year old coach.
He however concedes that there are challenges that he needs to overcome in terms of Indonesia players' selection.
"I want to use all of the players available to me and some of them have a lot of experience and they can help. Some of them have been playing in Thailand and Malaysia. We have a good group of players, but if the Indonesia national team job is easy we would have won something by now, but it's not.
"The fact that the league is still playing means the scheduling is tough, but I'm sure that when it comes to defending Indonesia against our regional rivals, the players will rise to the occasion," pointed out the former Bhayangkara FC trainer.
The Scottish coach also said that the only non-Southeast Asian side of the group, UAE, may even be at a disadvantage due to the fact that they will have to travel for away matches to the region four times.
"UAE will probably the strongest team [in the group] but they're going to have to come to the region that many times. It's going to be quite difficult for them especially for Middle Eastern teams.
"We (Southeast Asian teams in Group G) are going to have to make use of the home games, everybody, and when it comes to playing each other, it's going to be one huge scrap!" said the Liga 1-winning coach.
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