PETALING JAYA – The Harimau Malaya squad must forget their shameful 0-6 defeat to Palestine on Thursday and focus 100 per cent on the action against United Arab Emirate (UAE) at the 2018 World Cup/2019 Asia Cup qualifying campaign tomorrow.
Although, it had been humilated 0-10 by UAE on Sept 3, the national football team must exhibit their best performance at the Shah Alam Stadium tomorrow to redeem themselves.
Playing in an empty stadium without supporters after being penalised by FIFA following the unruly supporters at the match against Saudi Arabia on Sept 8 at the same venue, was surely a slap in the face for the squad handled by temporary coach, Datuk Ong Kim Swee.
The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) was also fined 40,000 Swiss Francs (RM80,000) while the Saudi Arabian team was given a 3-0 win.
UAE, which is second in Group A, is clearly not an easy opponent for Malaysia when the team became among the teams scoring the most goals in the qualification campaign, namely, 20 goals and allowed in only two goals in five matches.
Meanwhile, Malaysia, which is fourth in the group, only managed to score two goals to date but had allowed in 26 goals in six matches.
But Kim Swee was still confident the squad was capable of recording a positive outcome and would not easily give up, especially when scored against.
“Its like a phobia for the players to be humiliated three times with big deficits. Their self belief have to be rectified, I have spoke to them and I believe they will show a good performance tomorrow.
“The past is past, we must look forward, to buckle up and show a better perfomance tomorrow,” he said at a per-match media conference at Wisma FAM, today.
The return of Mohd Safi Sali, who was suspended one match, other than Azamuddin Akil, who had recovered from an injury and Baddrol Bakhtiar to the national squad was a relief to Kim Swee.
Kim Swee must also pay attention to UAE prolific striker, Ahmad Khalil who scored four goals for the team when creating the 10-0 win over Malaysia, other than winger Omar Abdulrahman Ahmed who was the backbone of the team.
In the meantime, UAE chief coach, Mahdi Ali Hassan Redha advised his players to forget about winning in style over Harimau Malaya at the Mohammed Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi and to focus fully on giving their best performance tomorrow.
“We must give our best tomorrow to secure our chance to qualify for the final round of qualification for the World Cup. We had prepared well for the game…Football is one language, who fights well and prepared well will win the game,” he said.
He conceded that the investment made by the UAE Football Association since several years ago had borne fruit when the team ended the 2015 Asia Cup in Australia in third place other than an encouraging performance at the qualifying campaign.
“We are proud to be in this level…For any football team, investment in grassroots development will always bear fruit. I know the players are keen to play in the World Cup and they deserve to be there,” he said.
For the record, the last time Malaysia recorded a win over UAE were in 1980 and 1982, other than drawing once and losing eight times. – BERNAMA