Unfazed Macala targets World Cup berth

Bahrain coach Milan Macala may well be on the cusp of what would be his greatest coaching feat, but the vastly travelled Czech remains typically unflustered ahead of Wednesday’s campaign-defining tie against the Qantas Socceroos at Stadium Australia.

SYDNEY: Bahrain coach Milan Macala may well be on the cusp of what would be his greatest coaching feat, but the vastly travelled Czech remains typically unflustered ahead of Wednesday-s campaign-defining tie against the Qamtas Socceroos at Stadium Australia.

One of Asia-s true journeymen, having coached throughout much of west Asia since linking with Kuwaiti Premier League club Kazma SC in 1994, 65-year-old Macala has Bahrain well placed in their charge towards the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

One point is all that Bahrain require to extend their qualification quest for at least another two matches beyond their current commitments in Group A and with this point in mind, Macala and his charges have advanced their preparations in Sydney since arriving on Saturday morning.

“It-s nice because it-s nice weather, if I compare the weather from Bahrain to here it is very different, we have 44° in Bahrain, over here it is 15° to 19° degrees which is great for football, it-s a very good time for us,” said Macala.

“For us we need one point, everything is in our hands and we don-t want to wait until our last game against Uzbekistan.”

Not unlike their Australian counterparts, Bahrain have suffered their share of World Cup qualification misfortunes - most notably failing at the final hurdle four years ago in a two-legged playoff series against Trinidad & Tobago.

In 2002, when the World Cup was hosted in Asia for the first time, Bahrain didn-t so much fail at the final hurdle but did narrowly miss out on a shot at Asia-s third and final qualification berth at Korea/Japan.

Now, with two matches to play in the fourth and penultimate round of Asian qualifying, Bahrain are one point away from securing third place in Group A and thus, a shot at Group B-s third placed team over two legs.

The winner of that playoff will then need to overcome a final and perhaps less intimidating hurdle, that being a two-match series with Oceania champions New Zealand in October and November of this year.

Indeed, the stakes are high for Macala and his men, who will be buoyed by their most recent showing against the Socceroos where they were desperately unlucky to concede a 1-0 defeat at their Riffa home in November of last year.

“Of course it is our dream because Bahrain has never played at the World Cup and step by step we need to qualify,” said Macala.

“Next round will be a strong opponent, I don-t know, maybe Iran, I don-t believe Saudi Arabia, maybe North Korea, it will be interesting.

“After this qualification the next round will be against New Zealand and all the time we prepare for the next step.

“The World Cup is a dream for everybody because Bahrain have never played in a World Cup, but I don-t want to speak about the World Cup because we didn-t make this last step last time.”

Bahraini-s Nigerian-born marksman Jaycee John, best known to Australian audiences for his dominant showing in November-s clash in Riffa, has made the trek to Sydney and headlines a line up that is weakened by the absence of prolific striker A-ala Hubail through injury and midfielder Abdulla Fatadi - another naturalised Nigerian - through suspension.