Phone call from King boosts Bahrain

DOHA - A phone call from King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has left Bahrain's players in buoyant mood as they attempt to record a first victory over Australia and reach the Asian Cup quarter-finals.

Bahrain need to beat the best FIFA ranked side in the 16-team tournament if they are to reach the quarter-finals with Australia requiring only a point at the Al Sadd Stadium on Tuesday to make the last eight.

Bahrain, who have lost all four previous meetings against Australia, will be without goal-scoring midfielder Faouzi Aaish who is suspended after being sent off in their 5-2 win over India on Friday, but hopes are high they can reach the last eight for only the second time following the royal call.

"The call raised the level of moral and spirit amongst the players. This call is a decoration on our chest," Bahrain coach Salman Shareeda told reporters on Monday ahead of the Group C clash.

"His majesty's call was very much impressive and expressive and shows his majesty is following up on his sons and his citizens. He is satisfied with out performances."

Shareeda cut a grumpy figure at Monday's media conference where he offered vague replies to questions about how his team will overcome Australia, who will replace Aaish and how he will shore up the team's leaky defence.

"We are unlucky we have had many injuries so far and these have been injuries in the past few days," Shareeda, who has only been in charge of the team since October, revealed.

Although when asked which players had suffered the injuries and, if necessary, who would replace them, a secretive Shareeda replied:

"We, as a technical management, have agreed with our own substitutes. We are prepared to meet and face Australia the substitutes are already there and have already been selected."

Australia's coach Holger Osieck was in far more jovial mood when he spoke with the media earlier.

The German revealed there were doubts over injured trio Jason Culina (knee), Luke Wilkshire (groin) and David Carney (shoulder) but was confident his side could qualify for the knockout stages.

"We are in a position where we have our fate in our own hands if we put in a good performance we will definitely achieve our target," Osieck said.

"We don't consider anything other than a victory. When you try and play a tactical game (for a draw) you lose your direction, strength... you definitely should avoid this."

South Korea, seeking their first title since 1960, are expected to easily sweep aside the tournament's lowest ranked side India and join either Australia or Bahrain in the last eight.

Manchester United midfielder and Korean captain Park Ji-sung is being troubled by toothache but it should not prevent him from lining up at the Al Gharafa Stadium on Tuesday.


SHARES
comments