Saturday, 10 November 2012

Rajagobal stays confident despite losses

Malaysia coach K. Rajagobal believes that his team’s preparations for the defence of their AFF Suzuki Cup title are still on track despite a pair of disappointing defeats in recent warm-up matches.

The reigning Asean champions returned to Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, a day after they had suffered a 2-0 defeat to fellow group stage co-hosts Thailand in an international friendly in Nontaburi.

That followed a 1-0 loss in Hanoi five days earlier, their second defeat against the Vietnamese in two months after they also went down 2-0 to Phan Thanh Hung’s side at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in September.

However, those results have not dented the confidence of Rajagobal as he attempts to lead his team to back-to-back title.

"The boys tried their best," said the Malaysia coach to the New Straits Times. "To me as a coach, it's much better we lost now rather than in competition. People did not see us play against Vietnam and I thought we did much better against Thailand.
"We put Thailand under pressure in the second half and you must realise we were playing away. It was a good test for the players and a reality check for them. Now they know what they have got to do."
Added Rajagobal: "People have their own opinion but as a coach I know my players. They know they have to raise their level and it is good we got to play there as I got to check the character of the players.”

Midfielder Amri Yahyah, who was a member of Rajagobal’s winning squad two years ago but is only on the standby list this time, defended the form of the team by pointing to the performance of the 2010 side, who won the competition despite losing 5-1 to Indonesia in their opening game.

“We had the same problem in 2010 but ended up winning the tournament. It’s too early to write them off just yet,” said the Selangor captain.

“Playing for the national team is different from playing club football. Players have a shorter time to adapt to each other, thus the slow start.

“I think this time we have extra pressure as we are the defending champions … but let’s not lose faith in the team.”

Malaysia are in Group B at the AFF Suzuki Cup and they will face Singapore in their opening game on November 25 before taking on Laos and Indonesia. 

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