KUALA LUMPUR – The Harimau Malaya head coach Kim Pan Gon was impressed with his players’ determination after Malaysia almost shocked the 80th-ranked team, China when they drew 1-1 in a Tier 1 international friendly in Chengdu, yesterday.
The 54-year-old South Korean coach also expressed his satisfaction with his players’ performance and considered the draw was good enough for the team.
“It was a very good game against a stronger team, the higher ranking China. We learned a lot from this game as well. I’m very proud of all the players, what they have done tonight (last night) made Malaysia proud.
“As a coach, I have zero complaints, what they have done was great. For our side, it was a very good result,” he told a post-match press conference at the Phoenix Hill Stadium in Chengdu.
When asked about the team’s positive progress, Pan Gon said that the change in tactical approach to become more proactive, controlling the game and fearless was one of the elements that affected the improvement.
He said the determination to fight for the country and the trust between the players and coaches also helped in improving the team’s performance.
“Win or loss is secondary, our performance is the most important. Our target is trying to get a higher ranking in the future,” he said.
In last night’s match, winger Mohamad Faisal Abdul Halim put the team ahead in the 11th minute before Lin Liangming equalised for China in the 36th minute.
The draw saw Malaysia, which is ranked 136th in the world, maintain its unbeaten record in six friendlies this year after recording four wins and one draw since March.
Meanwhile, Mohamad Faisal was more than happy to contribute to the team after going through a month-long suspension episode in the recent Malaysia League campaign.
“After being suspended for a month, I thank everyone who supported and prayed (for us), tonight’s (last night) match is for all Malaysians. I hope that in the next match, we will be more successful,” said the 25-year-old Selangor FC player.
Harimau Malaya squad will compete in the 2023 Merdeka Festival which will see the participation of India, Tajikistan and Palestine, from Oct 13 to 17, before starting the 2026 World Cup/2027 Asian Cup Qualification campaign in November and the 2023 Asian Cup in Qatar in January next year. – Bernama