Manama: Bahrain coach Sergio Batista vowed to fight till the last minute when his team take on North Korea today at the National Stadium in a do-or-die clash of the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers, starting at 6.40pm.
Bahrain will be looking for their first victory in Group ‘H’ after their 1-2 defeat at the hands of the Philippines in the first match.
“We did our best during our training camps. The players had a long break after the league. So we had to work hard on our fitness and tactics,” said the Argentine at yesterday’s Press conference at Bahrain National Stadium.
“We acknowledge that North Korea prepared for this match better than us. They had a friendly tournament and played three matches but we have studied our opponents very well and know what to expect from this game,” Batista added.
Batista held a training camp in Turkey last month and is delighted to have achieved his targets during that time.
“We did not play friendlies like them. We had no time for friendlies and there were a lot of things to be done after the loss against the Philippines. We had more things to concentrate on that were not going to be fixed by friendlies.
“We worked hard on the physical aspect of the players and their fitness. We worked on how to develop a winning mentally in all our games, not only against North Korea. Our players are ready for such an important game now,” said the coach.
Batista knows that in case Bahrain loses today’s match it would complicate his side’s chances in the qualifications.
“It will be painful if we lose but we will never lose hope until the last minute. We will fight till the end and try to qualify,” Batista said.
Batista said he has studied his opponents very well using data and video analysis and has figured their style of play.
“Our opponents have improved recently. They are good in free kicks and they depend on long balls to finish off the game. They always try and have a fast game so that they can control it and outplay their opponents but we are ready.
“They are here as group leaders and anything other than a loss will be a good result for them, but our concentration on the game needs to be high. We will not be rushing for a win but rather try and control the tempo of the game,” Batista said.
“It’s a 90-minute game and anything can happen in a second. We need to be able to control it from start to finish and try and block their counter attacks,” Batista added.
North Korea are known to depend on a strong defensive line and play long balls to their striker to score goals.
“We have shown our players their videos and highlighted key moments and aspects to concentrate on. Our attitude and the atmosphere we create during the game can make a difference,” he said.
“They will be defending most of the time, but we are capable of taking their defence apart,” Batista concluded.
The other teams in the group are Uzbekistan, Philippines and Yemen.