Friday, 29 July 2011

Malaysian players need more time to mature

National coach Datuk K. Rajagopal has appealed to fans and critics to give his young side time to grow into a solid unit despite last night’s exit from the Asian Zone World Cup qualifiers.

He was quick to emphasise that the team was being groomed to qualify on merit for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia.

Malaysia crashed out of the second round of the Asian Zone World Cup qualifiers after holding Singapore to a 1-1 draw at the National Stadium last night. Singapore, who won the first leg 5-3, thus go through with a 6-4 aggregate.

“We have to remember that the team is being prepared for the 2015 Asian Cup. These players will mature in four years’ time and they can only get better,” said the former international.

“We didn’t qualify for the next round ... but we also didn’t lose in front of our own crowd. I believe we have given our supporters a good game.

“Injuries and delaying tactics broke our attacking rhythm and momentum. A lapse in concentration in defence caused us to concede the equaliser.”

Despite the exit, Rajagopal can take heart from the fact that six of the players – Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, Mohd Muslim Ahmad, Mahali Jasuli, Mohd Fadhli Shas, G. Gurusamy and substitute stiker Izzaq Farris Ramlan – who featured last night are still eligble for this year’s SEA Games in Indonesia and next year’s London Olympics.

Rajagopal, though unhappy with the exit, can take pride in his players’ second-half performance against Singapore.

“We should have won the match ... but as a coach I’m happy with my players’ performance,” he said.

“It’s not fair to blame any player. It’s a team game and we all have to share the blame.”

Meanwhile, Singapore coach Radojko Avramovic denied that his players had faked injuries.

“We played a very good game and our defence was tremendously disciplined throughout the game,” said Avramovic.

“I don’t think my players went down too easily. The players I substituted were injured and were not faking injuries.”

He was also quick to praise the Malaysian team and fans.

“I like to see stadiums packed with fans ... the atmosphere was great,” he said.

“The Malaysian team played well and have a good future. It’s just that we were better than them today.”

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