Europe trip aims to bol­ster team con­fi­dence

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

THE Myan­mar na­tional team has ar­rived in Ger­many to play a brief se­ries of friendlies against Euro­pean club teams as they pre­pare to host the AFF Suzuki Cup 2016 in Novem­ber.

The White An­gels left Yan­gon on Septem­ber 10 for the six-week trip, which will see them play seven matches against clubs from the Nether­lands, Bel­gium, Cyprus and Italy.

On Septem­ber 13, the team played against EVV Echt, a Dutch Di­vi­sion-3 club. Af­ter bat­tling to a 1-1 draw in what was many of the play­ers’ first in­ter­na­tional ap­pear­ance, Myan­mar head coach Gerd Zeise said that the ex­pe­ri­ence – and not the scores – mat­tered most.

“We’ll play around seven friendly matches dur­ing this trip, but we aren’t con­cerned with the re­sults,” Zeise said. “We may lose. We may draw. We might even win – but our goal is to get more in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence from these matches.”

The Ger­man-born head coach added that the in­ter­na­tional ex­po­sure could help bol­ster team unity: Noth­ing im­proves team­work like the prob­lem-solv­ing in­her­ent to vis­it­ing for­eign coun­tries in a group.

“I hope our form im­proves,” he said.

The de­ci­sion to visit Europe is a strange one, as the Suzuki Cup will fea­ture only teams from South­east Asia. But Zeise said the cross-con­ti­nen­tal matches hold a higher teach­ing value than games against in-re­gion op­po­nents.

“Euro­pean teams are bet­ter than Asian teams, and stronger as well,” he said. “So we’ll get more ben­e­fit for our guys. I also think the Europe trip will help im­prove our play­ers’ self-con­fi­dence.”

It’s a unique plan from Zeise, who made his mark on Myan­mar foot­ball with the U-19 team be­fore tak­ing over the U-20 squad in 2015. That team shocked the world by qual­i­fy­ing for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, but his sub­se­quent stint with the na­tional team has only pro­duced one win so far.

He at­tributes the early strug­gles to a lack of bond­ing, say­ing that he hasn’t “had enough time” with the team to make big changes.

“When I coached the younger boys, the play­ers and I lived and trav­elled to­gether for a long time. We had a lot of time to pre­pare and gel. This team, most of my best play­ers have to com­pete against each other in the Myan­mar Na­tional League. So don’t com­pare the two – we will try our best to de­liver,” he said.

To­day, Myan­mar will play Konin­kli­jke Berchem (Bel­gium Di­vi­sion-3), with an­other game on Septem­ber 22 against Roda JC Jerkrade U-23 (Nether­lands Di­vi­sion-1). Next week, they face VVVVenlo (Nether­lands Di­vi­sion-2) on Septem­ber 26 and Pa­tro Eis­den (Bel­gium Di­vi­sion-2) on Septem­ber 28.

On Oc­to­ber 5, Myan­mar will play Cyprus’ na­tional U-21 team, and on Oc­to­ber 8 they will play their match in Cyprus against Di­vi­sion-1 club Eno­sis. Af­ter these matches, they will move on to the Ital­ian leg of their tour.

Pho­tos: MFF

Ger­man coach Gerd Zeise says the trip is an ef­fort to bol­ster his team’s in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence in ad­vance of the AFF Suzuki Cup in Novem­ber.

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