Kuala Lumpur – Harimau Malaya head coach Tan Cheng Hoe doesn’t want to blame any players for the team’s 1-2 defeat against Vietnam at the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) early today.
However, Cheng Hoe, whose father died just about 12 hours before the kick off, said football is about team work and hopes his charges will work to improve and play as a team so that the national squad can be a commendable one in the future.
His father Tan Chooi Siak, 95, died of old age at about noon yesterday in Alor Setar, Kedah.
Commenting on Group G of the 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup second-round qualifiers, the 53-year-old coach said his side were unlucky to concede two goals via set pieces.
“Overall as a coach I am very happy with the performance of our players, despite the defeat. It was not an easy game, but everyone was very committed, disciplined on the pitch, maybe due to the transition (change in tactics by Vietnam to defence and launching counter attacks), we lost concentration in the set pieces.
“Definitely we had our chances, we attacked, both teams played very openly and tried to get a positive result, but unfortunately we could not win the game. I still strongly believe that my players played well, we need to step up against Thailand,” he told the post-match press conference in Dubai. The audio was shared to the press by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM).
The Golden Dragons opened the scoring through a powerful header by Nguyen Tien Linh in the 27th minute after a corner kick, before the Harimau Malaya equalised through Guilherme de Paula’s penalty in the 72nd minute.
However, Vietnam secured the three points through Que Ngoc Hai’s penalty 10 minutes later, a decision questioned by the fans.
After two consecutive defeats and having missed the chance to qualify to the third round of the 2022 Qatar World Cup and automatic qualification to the Asian Cup, Cheng Hoe wants his charges to focus on their final group tie against Thailand on Tuesday morning to get an easier path for the Asian Cup qualifications.
“Thailand won’t be an easy game because they had more rest than us (after their 1-3 defeat to UAE on Monday). Definitely as a coach, I have to prepare recovery for the players and get ready for the next match,” he added.
The unbeaten Vietnamese top the standings in Group G with 17 points after seven games, followed by the UAE (15 points), Thailand (nine), Malaysia (nine) and Indonesia (one). ― Bernama