Australia cite lack of preparations for AFF U19 Championship withdrawal

The young Socceroos have pulled out at the last minute, leaving 11 other Asean nations to compete for bragging rights in Indonesia
New AFF member Australia have pulled out of the Under-19 Championships in Indonesia at the last moment, with the tournament's opening matches due to be played tonight.

Bobby Mubarak, a local committee staff of the tournament, announced at a press conference yesterday that the Australians cited their lack of preparations as the main reason for the withdrawal.

This leaves the U19 squads of the original 11 AFF members to compete in two groups in Surabaya, with Group A consisting of Laos, Philippines, Timor Leste, Singapore and Cambodia while Group B holds Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand.

Coaches of the other teams were raring for their boys to showcase their stuff ahead of the tournament, which will end on September 22.

"Our team is ready to compete in this tournament but we also noticed that we will face some tough opponents in Group B and we will fight for Thailand's pride," the Thailand coach asserted.

"We were placed in a tough group, the AFF U19 Championship is considered as an important tournament where every Asean nation will fight for it, so we aim to be the best," Vietnam's team manager said.

"After four months of holding a training camp in Europe, I think we are ready to play in the AFF U19 Championship," Malaysia team manager Kol Abdul Rani Abdul Rahim revealed.

"We hope the squad can gain some experiences from this tournament, which can make them strong enough to compete at Asia level in the future."

"As the host, of course we want to be the best in this tournament," Indonesia coach Indra Sjafri boldy declared.
"The majority of our team consists of students, which are based in Luzon, Manila [and] they lack international experience due to the team preparations, [which] isn't good enough," Philippines team manager Marlon Maro admitted.

"Most of our players are from the U16 team [and] they trained together in the last six months," Timor Leste assistant coach Eduardo Perreira said.

"We know that we are not favorites in this tournament but we will do our best."

"We will take this tournament as our stepping stone for the 2014 AFC U19 tournament, which will be held in our country," the Myanmar coach explained.

Laos will take on Philippines at 3.30p.m. in the tournament opener at the Gelora Delta Sidoarjo tonight, followed by the clash between Timor Leste and Singapore four hours later.