With Asia's third qualifying round for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ kicking off in a little over a week's time, a host of tune-ups were recently played.
Thailand and visiting Singapore drew 0-0 yesterday. The south-east Asian duo both face uphill opening tasks on 2 September, with the former travelling Down Under to challenge Australia and the latter facing an China PR side whom they have never beaten.
Despite the stalemate, the friendly provided both coaches with a last chance to take stock of their respective teams. Thailand coach Winfried Schaefer rested a series of key players and tested several fresh faces, but the home team still proved the dominant throughout, with Sompong Sorleb and Surat Sukha both coming close to opening the scoring on more than one occasion.
"Obviously finishing remains the main problem for us," Schaefer reflected. "We created several good chances to score but could not come up with goals. Furthermore, we need to improve our set-piece play, although overall we have made some progress."
Despite his side being on the back foot for the majority of the game, Radojko Avramovic was satisfied with Singapore’s performance. "The match is important for us to prepare against China," the Serbian said. "We saw some good things and there were also problems that we need to work on. It is difficult to play against China as they have some quality players, but we will go to Kunming and do our best to play our own game."
Indonesia, meanwhile, will enter their opener in Iran brimming with confidence after overcoming Palestine 4-1 on Monday in their penultimate warm-up. All five goals came in the second half, with Sulaiman Obaid putting the west Asians ahead on 49 minutes before Haryono drew the hosts level shortly afterwards. After veteran forward Christian Gonzalez gave the Indonesians the lead on 69 minutes, a brace by key striker Bambang Pamungkas in the closing stages earned them a spirited triumph.
Despite the resounding win, coach Wim Rijsbergen was at pains to point out that Indonesia must improve their teamwork if they are to counter the continent's elite. "Our players' top problem is ego," said the newly-appointed Dutchman. "We have to learn to play well as a team, and keep patient in keeping the ball and maintaining tempo. The players improved a lot in the second half, when they enjoyed more possession and were more pacy."
Elsewhere, striker Abdullah Deeb was twice on target as Jordan drew 3-3 against visiting Tunisia, a side who are 35 places above them on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. The Jordanians conceded two penalties which allowed the Africans to come from behind to earn a share of the spoils, with the defensive errors ringing a warning note for their Iraqi coach Adnan Hamad.
"It is indeed an achievement for us to draw against Tunisia as they are among the best Africa teams," said Hamad, whose team are preparing to battle his native Iraq. "But we made some mistakes and we will try to fix them in the last friendly against Indonesia."