The Tunisian was appointed to replace the sacked Jorvan Vieira in December and only started working with his national team players late last month.
This week they tackle the Socceroos at Melbourne’s AAMI Park in the curtain-raiser for the biggest international football event in the region.
“The period was very short in preparation,” he said when quizzed on answering the Kuwait Football Association’s distress call.
“I started coaching on the 18th of December.
“The players have quickly adapted to my way of training. Although the first match is very difficult, I feel the players are very ready to play the first match against Australia.
“Of course the Gulf Cup [in which Kuwait bowed out at the group stage] was a very bad result. But we’ve been working on the players’ self-confidence. I feel they’ve forgotten the Gulf Cup and started anew for the Asian Cup.”
While Australia are undeniably feeling the weight of expectation as the hosts, Maaloul was quick to point out that his own team will be subject to considerable scrutiny back home in the wake of their nightmare 5-0 loss to Oman to seal their Gulf Cup elimination.
“We feel very much pressure in the national team, especially as we played a very bad last match in the Gulf Cup,” he said.
“We represent the people of Kuwait in the match and we hope the pressure turns into a positive.”
As for whether or not his side would seek to attack Australia or opt instead to play on the counter, the Tunisian was giving nothing away.
“I’m sorry I can’t answer. But good question,” he said with a wry smile.
“The match is difficult for the Australian team because it’s the opening match. We always play to win and we’ll be playing to win the match on Friday.”
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