​Fitness factor ​key to victory

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Two years ago, Indonesia went down 4-0 to the Philippines in the group stage of the previous edition of the AFF Suzuki Cup. It was the only loss they suffered but it was enough to end their hopes of making the semifinals. Looking back, Indonesian coach Alfred Riedl pointed at the fitness factor as the reason for their premature exit.

This time around, however, it appears that the fitness factor of the teams have changed with Indonesia holding the upper hand. “They were smarter than us, and they were fitter then. But we cannot compare with the current Philippines team. I believe we are much fitter now compared to the team two years ago,” said pleased Riedl.

Riedl is also quietly confident of his team’s form after their performance against Thailand. “We played a good game despite losing. The performance of the team was good against the clear favourites of the tournament.”

The players have the willingness, they want to bring something home, the chance is there. We saw Philippines and Singapore play and we believe we can beat them.

Philippines coach Thomas Dooley agreed with the Riedl and explained that his team was lacking in fitness. “The lack of physical condition is a big loss and we have to build it up. I told players the longer we stay in the tournament the better we will get. So now, just have to play smart and get a perfect workout in the game to get the fitness level up.

“In 2014, we dominated almost 90 mins because we were fit, and I think Indonesia is in the right condition, so it will be difficult for us now,” Dooley said.

To make matters worse, Dooley is without at least two key players in Daisuke Sato and Javier Patino. “We miss the presence of Sato who takes charge of things in the team, he maybe young but he can control things.”

Still Dooley is aware of the fans who are closely following the team’s progress and he wants his boys to give it their best. “We must win the game, we know a lot of people will be watching us in the stadium and on TV. I hope it will be interesting game for the fans.”

Riedl is also aware of the massive following back in Indonesia and hopes to deliver a good result for the fans back home. “Both teams have to win tomorrow. If we lose we are out. It’s going to be difficult for both, the tension is there. I hope many fans will come.”

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