VIENTIANE (13 Oct 2014) – It will be the second time that Brazilian Antonio Vieira will take charge of the Timor Leste national side for the qualifying round of the AFF Suzuki Cup.
And after picking up his first three points in the competition yesterday when Timor beat Brunei, the 58-year-old tactician will be hoping for better luck this time round as they look to make their first ever appearance in ASEAN’s blue riband event.
AFF: Tell us about the game against Brunei?
VIEIRA: We were fabulous at the start and scored that superb goal. But we seem to lose focus after that. And that allowed Brunei to fight back. But even though we were down at the end of the first half, I was confident that we will get through due to the quality that we have on our side. We were so happy when we won.
AFF: What gave you that confidence?
VIEIRA: Well, we have six players playing abroad. Two are playing in Kuwait, three in Brazil and one in Thailand, so we have the players who can make the difference. But that does not mean that the local players lacked quality. I was impressed with some of them even though they are playing only amateur football. And a few are still in their teens.
AFF: How did you come into this coaching position?
VIEIRA: As you would have already known, this is my second stint. Back in 2011 I was also in charge of the team. First for the SEA Games (in Jakarta in 2011) and then for the AFF Suzuki Cup qualifiers the year after that was played in Myanmar. We did well in patches but I thought that we were a bit unlucky in some of the games. I’m hoping that we will be better this time round.
AFF: Tell us a little bit about your preparation?
VIEIRA: Other than those players playing abroad, the rest are from the local amateur league back in Timor. There are eight teams in the Timor Amateur League. That is the only source that we have for players. They are not professionals but there are a handful of players who have the quality to play professionally. And of course they have to look at this avenue if they want to go to the next level.
AFF: Do you feel that having foreign-based players will be a big advantage for you?
VIEIRA: Of course. If they are good enough to play in foreign leagues, it meant that they have to be of a certain quality. They will be a big advantage individually for us for this qualifier. But as a team, that is another question. They can only join the team a week before coming here and that is a big issue. Football is a team sport. So we need time. Unlike other countries which can call the players together every so often, it is not the same with Timor. So I hope that the foreign-based players can give guidance to the local lads.
AFF: What is holding the game back in Timor?
VIEIRA: A lot of things. We do not even have a decent field to train on. We only have an artificial field. We cannot train as a team for long periods and that is a big hindrance to forming a quality national team. These are just some of the things that we need to look at and improve.
AFF: How many games did you have before coming here to Vientiane?
VIEIRA: We only had one match against a local club from Thailand a few days before we fly into Laos. And to be frank, I know nothing about the rest of the teams competing here. I could not even get a video of them playing. So the best that I can do with the limited resources is to concentrate on the psyche of the players. That will be the most important factor.
AFF: Your thoughts for the next match tomorrow (against Myanmar)?
VIEIRA: We have to be better of course. Myanmar will be a different team from Brunei, so we have to be better at what we are doing. It is another difficult match but the players will just have to focus and keep things in perspective.