Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 14 December 2019

World Cup 2022 qualifiers: Self-belief key for Indonesia manager Simon McMenemy

UAE take on lowest-ranked side in Group G at the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai on Thursday

Indonesia manager Simon McMenemy. Getty
Indonesia manager Simon McMenemy. Getty

Indonesia have vowed to “fight for everything” as they bid to register a shock against the UAE in the World Cup 2022 qualifier at the Al Maktoum Stadium on Thursday.

The Southeast Asians, the lowest-ranked side in Group G at world No 167, have suffered two defeats from two matches thus far, losing at home last month to Malaysia and Thailand.

Given that, Indonesia are not expected to depart Dubai with a positive result, especially after the UAE, the highest-seeded side in the pool, opened their campaign with a 2-1 victory in Malaysia four weeks ago.

However, it’s a task the visitors are relishing, according to manager Simon McMenemy.

“It’s obviously a big, big challenge for us,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for this well-known nation. Certainly in terms of Asian football, they don’t come much bigger. It is a challenge for us to come here, but if we want to improve as a nation and improve our football, we need to meet this challenge.

“This has to be an experience that the players understand. Without doubt, they understand the challenge in front of them. But I want them to come here and enjoy. I don’t want this to be something that in the future we come and think ‘I don't want to travel to the Middle East again. it is tough, it’s a long journey…’

“We knew this before we set out. We are very much looking forward to this game and are in a positive mood. We want to give the best account of ourselves that we possibly can. With respect to the host nation here, we want to fight for everything we can get.”

McMenemy said he was well aware of the threat posed by the UAE, stopping short at singling out names. Yet he did concede that it could be an opportune time to meet the Emirates given the match represents only Van Marwijk’s second competitive game in charge.

“We have to believe we have enough weapons to do damage to the UAE,” McMenemy said. “We cannot come here with a negative attitude, [thinking] ‘we lost two games, they are Pot 1 [from the qualifying draw].’

“This is not how you build a team and what our team believes, anyway. Positivity goes a long way. Within the group, we are confident we have a game plan; playing as the underdogs, that is a powerful thing sometimes.

“There is change within the UAE national team. There is a new coach looking to prove himself and prove himself to the fans, making decisions that work. If we can make his job difficult, as a team, and stop them, then anything can happen. We have to believe.”

Updated: October 9, 2019 05:19 PM

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