Miroslav Soukup urges Bahrain to 'take on' UAE in 2019 Asian Cup opener
Czech manager aware tournament hosts start match as 'favourites' but is confident his side will give it their all
Bahrain manager Miroslav Soukup said his young team “has the hunger” to claim victory when they play tournament hosts UAE in the 2019 Asian Cup opener at Zayed Sports City stadium on Saturday.
Bahrain are being billed as the underdogs against a UAE side who will not only boast huge support, but also hold a significant head-to-head record having won five and drawing one of the past seven matches between the Gulf rivals.
“We know the UAE are a strong team and are the favourites in our group,” Soukup said. “But what we can do? Take them on and see what happens on the pitch. They will have a full stadium behind them but I hope we’ll have some fans behind us.”
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According to Soukup, Bahrain are a mixture of experience and youngsters with an average age of 24, and the Czech believes teamwork will be key to his side’s hopes of success.
“We have around 15 players from the last Gulf Cup and have added a few from the Olympic team,” he said. “I’m not worried about the age but we have a good mix of experience and youngsters. We don’t have individual stars but as a team we are strong.
“I have told my players to give their best on the pitch. We can lose the game but when they go out of the pitch I want them to hold their heads high and not look towards the grass and think too much on the performance.
“If you want to make a good result then every single aspect of the game has to come together perfectly. Individual performance, team effort, yellow cards and stuff also matters. So luck also should be there.
“I would like to say we are very happy to qualify for the Asian Cup and we are very happy we are in Group A, where we can play an open game with the host team,” Soukup added.
“This is an experience for my team to play in front of the big crowds in one of the biggest stadiums in the country.
“We improved after the Gulf Cup. We are ready for this tournament and we want to showcase a good football of Bahrain.”
Updated: January 5, 2019 09:28 AM