Bahrain still on track despite the draw

Manama: Coach Miroslav Soukup confidently declared Bahrain “will qualify for the Asian Cup” despite only managing a goalless draw with Singapore in Tuesday’s Group E opener.

The home-side were unlucky not to snatch all three points at the Bahrain National Stadium as Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny produced a eye-catching double save from Ahmed Ali Mohamed and Ismaeel Abdulatif with 17 minutes remaining of a tight contest.

The draw means the pair were unable to catch Turkmenistan, who beat Chiense Taipei 3-1 on Sunday, at the top of the table after the opening round of fixtures.

“We should get a lot of support despite the result that we had against Singapore. We lacked the final touch which is a problem that we have been facing recently and you can’t win matches if you don’t score,” said Bahrain coach Soukup.

“I’m not happy with the result, but I believe that we are capable of edging Turkmenistan in the next matches.”

Bahrain are seeking to qualify for a fourth consecutive AFC Asian Cup finals having exited in the group stage at the last three tournaments following their fourth-place finish in China in 2004.

“It is always hard to play against teams like Singapore who plays with a defensive performance,” added Soukup.

“We should be positive and avoid putting any pressure on the players. I have big confidence in my team and we will qualify for the Asian Cup.”

Bahrain face Turkmenistan away in June in the next round of qualifiers after Yazguly Hojageldiyev’s side made an ideal start in Taipei at the weekend.

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