ISKANDAR PUTERI – National head coach Kim Pan Gon praised the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium’s pitch after Malaysia beat Turkmenistan 1-0 in a Tier 1 international friendly match here, last night.
It was the first time Harimau Malaya played at Sultan Ibrahim Stadium which is the home ground of Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT), following the closure of the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil earlier this year for the replacement of Zeon Zoysia grass used here.
The 53-year-old South Korean coach said the pitch conditions here allowed his players to come up with a fast game, thus he thanked JDT for offering his team to train as well as play two friendlies here including the match against Hong Kong on March 28.
“It (pitch) is good and we can play a fast and speedy game, if we have more fast players we could give you more goals. On the players’ side, I think they must adapt (with quality pitch conditions) because we may play on a better pitch in Qatar (2023 Asian Cup), with a faster game and stronger opponents.
“Overall it (playing at the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium) was good practice for us and we had a good environment as well, thank you JDT for providing this pitch,” he told the post-match press conference here, last night.
JDT’s winger Muhammad Akhyar Abdul Rashid emerged as the hero as he scored the winning goal in the 29th minute.
Malaysia had the chance to bag more goals through some beautiful moves, but Turkmenistan goalkeeper Rasul Charyyev did brilliantly to save several dangerous attempts including denying Muhammad Akhyar’s scissors kick attempt and Mohamad Faisal Abdul Halim’s double strike in the second half.
This was Malaysia’s second victory over Turkmenistan after defeating ‘The Green’ squad 3-1 in Group E action of the 2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers at the National Stadium in June last year. – Bernama