We expect India to be stronger against us: Malaysia head coach Kim Pan-gon
Malaysian attacking-midfielder Paulo Josue is down with Dengue
Malaysia are set to host India for the opening game of the 2023 Merdeka Tournament on Friday, 13 October. The hosts have had a pretty poor record in the tournament over the last decade or so, but they aim to take advantage of some surprising late changes to the format to lift the title this time around.
A day before the tie against the Indian national football team, the South Korean head coach of Malaysia Kim Pan-gon addressed the media with team’s right-back Matthew Davies. Let’s look at what they discussed in the press conference.
Kim Pan-gon on his team’s fitness
Malaysia’s head coach Kim Pan-gon is confident of his team’s ability to produce an impressive display after seeing them work hard in training over the last week or so. Ahead of the game, he said: “All we have done in the last few days is improve our conditioning, tactical approach and game planning. It’s all been done very well. Our players are very excited for the game and have full confidence to win the game. We’ll provide a good performance tomorrow.”
On India’s strengths
The South Korean coach will be lining up his side to face India for the first time in his managerial stint with them. When asked about the strengths of India and elements he wants his players to be wary off, he explained: “As we all know, they are ranked higher than us. They are a top team in West Asia. We know that their characteristics are very aggressive. They work hard and are tough. That kind of element in any opponent team will be very tough.
“They press every single ball and are strong in hunting or chasing the ball, try to make body contact and how they’re a little bit dirty in trying to make fouls. These characteristics they have, so we must be firm and strong to counter that. We have a good opportunity at this moment to face a team of this level. We will play strongly against India tomorrow,” he added.
Which key player will miss the game?
The coach has also revealed that influential attacking midfielder Paulo Josue will miss this game as he’s down with Dengue. He stated: “We have on sick player right now. Paulo Josue (attacking midfielder), he is down with Dengue. So our medical team is taking care of him right now. It’s not a good condition for him, but we are monitoring his situation and that is what is important.
“Our medical team is really focused in taking care of him. It’s difficult for him to join up for this game, and our priority is to take care of players and we will not take a risk to play him. Apart from that, everyone is fit and in a good condition for the game.”
Kim eager to entertain home crowd
Kim was pleased with how Igor Stimac praised his side’s quality ahead of the game and has assured the fans that the side will do everything possible to win the game. He said: “He (Stimac) made us look great. It’ll be a good game, better than it was earlier.
“We expect India to be stronger against us. The DNA of Malaysia is to be stronger than them to play against them from the first minute to the 90th minute. We’re expecting a huge turnaround in the crowd, so we want to play an entertaining game and produce a good result for the spectators,” he finished with.