Under the guidance of an experienced new coach, fresh off competing at the Asian Games and with a squad stacked with exciting young talent, Timor-Leste head into Saturday’s AFF Suzuki Cup qualification tie with Brunei Darussalam in high spirits.

Not even a late venue switch that saw the first leg moved from the Timorese capital, Dili, to Malaysia over concerns with lighting can dampen the positive mood in the camp according to the team’s captain, Jorge Victor.

“There is no question about the spirit in our team and neither with the fighting qualities that we have and we are all united in the belief that we can put that issue behind us and move on and win this match.”

In a team that’s become known in recent years for its youthful attacking verve, with the likes of 20-year-olds Rufino Gama and Henrique Cruz now household names, it’s at the other end of the pitch where the two-legged tie could well be decided.

That’s where Jorge Victor will have a crucial part to play as he marshals what’s expected to be a four-man backline and he’ll hope to once again model his play on a man he greatly admires in Spain and Real Madrid star, Sergio Ramos.

“He is the captain and I am the captain, he is a central defender and that’s always been my position too so as the captain of the team I know I must be a leader on the pitch.

“I’m fully aware of the responsibility that I have to be that leader and make sure that we can fight and have success in these games.”

The 23-year-old was an ever-present in the nation’s recently concluded Asian Games (above, right) campaign where they drew praise for some strong showings against nations with considerably greater pedigree in China, UAE and Syria and according to the young defender it was an invaluable experience as they prepare to face off with Brunei.

“We know just how important the Asian Games was for our preparation because it means the team was together training and playing matches and for sure that can help us improve our quality as a team and also give us a good condition as we head into the AFF Suzuki Cup.”

Based in his nation’s capital at leading club side, Karketu Dili, Jorge Victor will have several of his club teammates for company during the qualification matches where the national side will be led by the vastly experienced Japanese coach, Norio Tsukitate, but the ball-playing central defender is under no illusions as to just how stern a challenge Brunei will pose.

“The most important element for us, especially in the first match, is to ensure that we contain Brunei and ensure that they don’t score – if we can do that then I’m confident we have the goals we need to win.”

If they manage to do that then the national captain knows just what kind of a celebration they’d return home to and what a huge boost it would be for Timorese football.

“We are fully aware of just how important qualification for the AFF Suzuki Cup is for our whole nation, especially for all the football players that we can show our qualities on the regional stage and keep having further chances to improve.”