Malaysia to face Bahrain with signature bravery and speed - Kim Pan Gon

Malaysia's football identity unshaken in upcoming Asian Cup Group E match

19 Jan 2024 07:48pm
National squad during training session. - Photo by Bernama
National squad during training session. - Photo by Bernama

DOHA - Head coach Kim Pan Gon intends to stick to Harimau Malaya's 'DNA’ - play with bravery and speed - although pressure is mounting on them ahead of tomorrow's do-or-die Asian Cup Group E match against Bahrain at the Jassim Bin Hammad Stadium.

His contention is that the national players have been playing this way ever since he took over in January 2022 and, as such, are comfortable with the style and understand what is required of them.

The 54-year-old South Korean said this approach had served them well, resulting in them winning many matches and scoring loads of goals.

That's why he will stick with the same approach against the Dilmun's Warriors despite it resulting in a 4-0 capitulation at the hands of Jordan in the opening Group E match on Monday (early Jan 16 morning Malaysian time).

"In the last two years, we faced teams like Jordan, Syria, China, India and Tajikistan. Win, draw or lose, we will play the same way... this is our way, this is the Malaysian way. We gave you a 10-0 win, a 4-1 win, a 4-2 win and we scored a lot with this tactical (setup).

"For the Bahrain game, it’s the same, we will approach it bravely to try to dominate and hit them to make them struggle. This is the Malaysian way, if we don’t do this, it’s not Malaysia,” he told a pre-match press conference here today.

Pan Gon said although his team will try to score an early goal, they will also be cautious and play an intelligent game as Bahrain are no pushovers.

He said that his men have put behind them the defeat by Jordan and are now mentally focused on the next game.

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"After the big loss (to Jordan), the players were disappointed and so was I. The result was not what we expected but that’s football. Our players are mature enough to know how to manage the situation. We are Malaysia, We have a very strong mentality and we believe the players will come back stronger,” he added.

Meanwhile, national midfielder Mohd Shahrul Mohd Saad believes that tomorrow's crucial game can be a "turning point” for them and that they are capable of producing a positive outcome.

"We will give everything and fight until the end to get the three points. Although it will be hard, we won’t give up and we believe in making something,” said the 30-year-old Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) player.

Malaysia and Bahrain began their Group E campaigns on a losing note, with Bahrain going down 3-1 to two-time champions South Korea and Malaysia getting trounced 4-0 by Jordan.

Malaysia have lost three times to Bahrain since 2013, with the latest being a 2-1 defeat in the group stage of the 2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers in Kuala Lumpur in June 2022.

Tomorrow will be the first time these two teams will be squaring off in the Asian Cup stage.

Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi's Bahrain are ranked 86th in the world while Malaysia are ranked 130th. - BERNAMA