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Thailand U23 vs Saudi Arabia U23: Akira Nishino remain confident ahead semifinals

Thailand U23 vs Saudi Arabia U23: Akira Nishino remain confident ahead semifinals

Akira Nishino remained confident ahead of the crucial match against Saudi Arabia at the AFC U23 Championship.

24 years earlier, Akira Nishino famously led Japan to the Olympics. Now, he will hope to achieve the milestone in his career again with Thailand U23.

“That was an unforgettable game against Saudi Arabia, and to go to the Olympics,” Nishino recalled the match against their opponent 24 years ago. “For me it was an unforgettable game and I wish we could do the same with Thailand.

“Saudi Arabia used to have a traditional style using strength and speed, but recently they have been changing to a more modern style, they have improved and what we have to do is enhance our strengths against Saudi Arabia.

He reminded the players that they will have to come up big with the support of the home fans “We have the ability and home advantage and I keep telling the players to be confident in that.”

“To be honest, this team doesn’t have much experience and they only have experience at the Asian level, not international level, so in this tournament, I’m a little worried,” he said.

“But each player has potential and they have been proving that. I believe they can do more but at this moment we are doing what we can do. They’re doing what we’ve been working on in training.”

Thailand U23 vs Saudi Arabia U23: Akira Nishino remain confident ahead semifinals

The Saudi Arabia U23 head coach acknowledged the major challenge he’s facing. “I think we have a difficult match,” he said. “We will play against the home team and they have had one day more rest than us. They also have a good coach and because they came through a good group to qualify we must be ready and prepare our team mentally, tactically and physically for this game. We hope we can get through to the next round.

“The players must be relaxed and play. They have a good experience because sometimes in Saudi Arabia they play with 60,000 or 70,000 in support. It’s important we’re more concentrated on the game, especially at the start, and after that we wish we can make a good game and a good result.”

Thailand U23 vs Saudi Arabia U23 match information

Time: 18:15 (GMT+8) on January 18th

Venue: Thammasat Stadium, Pathum Thani

Competition: 2020 AFC U23 Championship