Maldives national team coach Darren Stewart has praised the players for their commitment and hard work, ahead of tomorrow nights game against Palestine in Asian Cup qualifying.
Speaking in the prematch press conference held today, Steward said he could not ask more from the players and he is delighted with the performance, commitment and hard work he seeing from the players.
"Preparation has been very good. I could not ask for more from these players in terms of training and work rate," said the experienced Australian.
Many countries has played friendly games to prepare for the crucial Asian Cup qualifiers, but Maldives did not play a friendly because of the outbreak of H1N1 flu virus.
Stewart said it was a sensible decision by FAM to restrain from playing a friendly in this situation.
"People has been criticizing me, criticizing FAM, criticizing Bassam (FAM President) regarding this friendly issue. It was more of health decision. Everyone knows about the flu virus that's been spreading," Stewart said. "It was a sensible decision by FAM. We fully understand FAM's decision."
Maldives previously played against Palestine on two occasions. The first encounter was in 2012 AFC Challenge Cup, where Palestine beat Maldives 2-0. The second match in 2014 AFC Cup ended in a goalless draw.
Stewart said that Palestine is not a minor team but he is confident that the players will stage a good performance.
"Palestine is not a minor team. They are a middle eastern power house. But i have full confidence in my players," Stewart said. "The way they have been performing and working in training, if they show the same performance and work rate in the match, regardless of the result i would be satisfied. Our target is to win the match and we will work to achieve that."
Stewart said the he hopes for a good result, and he will be responsible for the result, regardless of the outcome.
"I will take full responsibility of the result. If the result is no good i will take the responsibility. The players has been tremendous, Fam, the staff of FAM has been tremendous."
I still think FAM could have accepted one of the offers for a friendly match, even if it meant playing away from home. The players have not played a competitive match for a while now, and it doesn't matter how much preparation they undergo on the training pitch, you need to play actual matches to get the required match fitness. Still, I hope the players are up for it tomorrow night and make a winning start to the campaign. It's going to be a very tough match and I feel that the matches against Palestine are going to determine who makes it through to the tournament along with Oman.
Sadly no hope