Can Harimau Malaya roar in Qatar?

15 Jan 2024 08:30pm
National squad during a recent training session in Doha, Qatar. - Photo by Bernama
National squad during a recent training session in Doha, Qatar. - Photo by Bernama

SHAH ALAM - The national football squad has the potential to create a surprise by advancing to at least the Round of 16 in the 2023 Asia Cup in Qatar, opening the eyes of the world.

Veteran coach Manja Man said that what was most important was the ability of Kim Pan-gon's charges to achieve positive results early in the opening match of Group E against Jordan early Tuesday morning.

"Personally, like any other fan, I want to see Harimau Malaya make history by advancing to the Round of 16 in the Asia Cup.

"The national squad is currently very consistent and has the ability to create surprises.

"They need to play well, minimise mistakes and not follow the opponent's rhythm.

"At the same time, this is the best stage for the national team to roar and show our abilities to Asia," he told Sinar.

After facing Jordan, the national squad was scheduled to meet Bahrain on Jan 20 before closing the group stage against two-time champions South Korea five days later.

However, Manja, who was also a former defender in the 1980s and 1990s, admitted that the defensive aspect of the national squad needed improvement after leaking goals in several previous matches.

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He said facing top teams in Asia such as Jordan, Bahrain and South Korea demanded the defence to be at its best while avoiding simple mistakes.

"In terms of defence, it is quite worrying because we will be facing strong teams in Asia.

"We cannot be complacent and need to act before the opponent's players act. That is the most important thing.

"I also hope that other players like Arif Aiman Mohd Hanapi and Mohd Faisal Halim can play their roles as key individuals to boost the national team's attacking line," he said.

Meanwhile, Youth and Sports Deputy Minister Adam Adli through a video posted on his social media, expressed full support for the Harimau Malaya team competing in Qatar.

"To the pride of the nation, Harimau Malaya, I wish you good luck and I believe in your fighting spirit in the land of Qatar.

"The prayers of all Malaysians are with you.

"To all the true 'tiger fans,' even though we cannot be with the national team in Qatar, don't worry, we will bring the big screen all over the country.

"So, everyone can come down and support them," he said.

Meanwhile, DAP Socialist Youth (DAPSY) chief Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen also expressed pride in Harimau Malaya's best achievements.

"We from every corner of the country, from Sabah and Sarawak, are truly proud of the achievements of the Harimau Malaya team and fully support their efforts in the Asia Cup.

"Let's go, may Malaysia succeed, and 'agi idup agi ngelaban!'," he said.