Sunday, 20 November 2011

Malaysian coach Ong Kim Swee praises goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi

Malaysian Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee can thank national goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat for saving him from getting the axe a couple of months ago.

That came when Malaysia took on Asian No. 1 Japan in their opening game of the Asian Zone final qualifying round for the 2012 London Olympics.

It was a Herculean task, right from the start, but Malaysia did well to keep the score down, losing by a respectable 2-0 margin in Fukuoka on Sept 21.

But the truth was that Kim Swee’s men were completely outclassed by Japan, who could have easily won by a dozen goals.

The match statistics showed that Japan had 26 shots at goal compared to Malaysia’s measly two.

And Kim Swee admitted that he would have been sacked if not for the heroics of his goalkeeper.

“Honestly, I would have been out of a job if not for Khairul Fahmi,” quipped Kim Swee, who was in a relaxed mood at the team hotel prior to the semi-final tie against Myanmar yesterday.

Kim Swee, who is in charge of the Harimau Muda ‘A’ boys (Under-21) in the Super League, was also given the task of preparing the national Under-22 squad for the Asian Zone qualifying campaign for the 2012 London Olympics as well as for the SEA Games Under-23 football competition here.

“It’s not an easy task to juggle three different competitions. Fortunately, I have worked with most of the boys and this is the plus factor,” said Kim Swee.

In fact, arrangements have been made to fly Kim Swee’s boys out of Jakarta immediately after the final tomorrow.

This is because Kim Swee will have to prepare them for the Asian Zone qualifying match at home against Syria (Wednesday) and Bahrain (Nov 27).

Most of the boys are from the SEA Games squad, except for skipper Baddrol Bakhtair, leftback Mohd Asraruddin Putra Omar and striker Ahmad Fakri Saarani.

The good news for Kim Swee is that both his key players in midfield – Gary Steven Robbat and Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor – are recovering well from their injuries and should be able to rejoin the team.

Only 3.5 slots are given to Asia for the Olympics. The three group winners advance automatically while the three runners-up will play another round of matches before the winners face a playoff against another qualifier from Africa.

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