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WC Qualification Asia

Whiskey and alcohol the reason for young Timor Leste squad

09:46 EAT 08/06/2019
Nor Azam Azih, Malaysia v Timor Leste, 2022 World Cup Qualification, 7 Jun 2019
The Japanese head coach of Timor Leste explained just why his took such a young team to a crucial World Cup qualifier against a more superior side.

The double header against Malaysia was always going to be a tall order for one of the weakest team in the region but it was made more difficult because of the circumstances surrounding the more experienced players at the disposal of Norio Tsukitate.

His Timor Leste side were completely outplayed bar a short 10 minutes period at the second of the second half when they managed to pull a goal back through Joao da Silva Freitas' effort in the 51st minute. Citing the match as a steep learning curve for his young team, Tsukitate is counting on them to gain valuable experience from the thrashing.

The 7-1 defeat at the hands of Malaysia in the first leg of the preliminary round one of the joint 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualification also pushed Tsukitate to admit that the path to the second round is almost at the end for his Timor Leste side.

"For Timor Leste, it's 99% finished for 2022 Qatar World Cup. Next game I think will also be difficult. But our players are now playing in domestic league that also have high pressure and good technique like Malaysia but not too much experience. Tonight (Friday) our players get a good experience. I'm hopeful for a better performance in the next game.

"In the first half Malaysia played with high pressing and quick, it took us by surprised and the players could not play our normal game but this is a good experience for us. Now it is important for players to get high level experience.

"Timor Leste are very difficult. Already 24 or 25 players no training and the season only last 5-6 months. And after 6 months, do nothing. Drink whiskey and alcohol with no training. So the condition of older players are difficult and I cannot choose them. That's why I went with a young squad this time," said Tsukitate in the post-match press conference.

While Tan Cheng Hoe could throw on the likes of Shahrel Fikri, Faiz Nasir and Akhyar Rashid as substitutes, Tsukitate could only rely on more inexperienced players to replace those that were suffering in the match, which made his task all the more difficult.

But given that the average age of the squad brought to Kuala Lumpur are around the 18-20 age mark, there are still reasons for Tsukitate to be positive. His players looked much pacy than their Malaysian counterparts and if harness in the right way, could make them a better side in years to come.


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