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Indonesia trying to stay grounded

JAKARTA: Indonesia assistant coach Wolfgang Pikal has reiterated the importance of keeping his players focussed on the task at hand as they prepare to meet Group A's perceived minnows Laos at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium on Saturday.

Alfred Riedl's side made a flying start to the AFF Suzuki Cup on Wednesday by crushing Malaysia 5-1. But with the Laotians holding three-time champions Thailand to a 2-2 draw on the same evening, Pikal insists that they cannot afford to take any team lightly.

"The mood is confident but we're trying to keep our players on the ground because we don't want them flying in the sky and thinking that we are super great. We have won nothing – we have only won one match – so we're trying to keep them grounded. It's very important," said the Austrian during a press conference on Friday.

"The difference between the teams in Southeast Asia is not so great anymore. So we cannot take any opponents too easily."

To that end, Indonesia plan to put out a full strength squad to face the Laotians.

"All of the players should be fit and ready for the game. We have a few knocks after the match against Malaysia and (midfielder) Arif Suyono got a slight tear on his right leg during training. But our players are feeling fresh for the next game," said Pikal.

"We will not try to experiment. We want to qualify as quickly as possible. If we can win tomorrow and reach the semi-finals, then we can consider our options. We will try to put our best team out."

David Booth, who replaced Riedl as Laos coach earlier this year when the Austrian took up the Indonesia job, is hopeful that his charges can replicate the performance that earned them a point against the Thais.

"Before we came here, we knew that we had three very difficult games so we're treating them all the same. The way that we prepared for Thailand is the same way that we are preparing for Indonesia and also against Malaysia," said the Englishman.

"The three games here are a good test for us to judge our progress over the last three or four months. So it's another step forward for us.

"We would like to hope that we can perform in the same way we did in the first game. But with our team, you'll never know, we'll have to wait and see."

When asked how he planned to approach the game tactically, Booth responded in a droll manner.

"I thought that when Malaysia scored that night, it woke up Indonesia. So maybe we'll have to score in the last minute," he said, laughing.

"More than half of our players have never played in a stadium like that, never mind with support like that. But I don't think that the animosity will be there at the start of our game against Indonesia as there was in their game with Malaysia. I think their fans will give us a bit of a chance in that respect – until we score that is and then everything changes."