Monday, 21 November 2011

Malaysian players fired up for final against Indonesia in SEA Games

Ong Kim Swee has reserved special words of encouragement for his players ahead of today's football final against Indonesia at the Gelora Bung Karno. 

Malaysia's coach did not want to reveal what exactly he plans to say but did concede that it will be about "pride'.

Ever since the Malaysian team played the opening match against Singapore on Nov 7, they have faced nothing but obstacles from hostility in the stands to Kim Swee's touchline ban for the 1-0 win over Myanmar in the semi-finals.

A tough draw and playing four of their five matches here in afternoon heat, it is a wonder that the players have not already dropped dead of exhaustion.

All this has been enough motivation for the team to reach the final, beating Indonesia 1-0 along the way in the group stage, and Kim Swee's plans for a few more motivational words is just a little bit extra.

"I had wanted to say a few special words to them before the group match against Indonesia but I thought I'll save it for the final.

"The players are motivated enough, they all want to win this badly. But before they step on the pitch tomorrow (today), I'll say to them something that will fire them up even more.

"I can't tell you what it is, you'll know after we win," said Kim Swee, who looked fired-up himself as he spoke to Timesport yesterday.

Today's final will be Malaysia's third game in five days and the toll it has taken on the team is evident.

After the Myanmar match, winger Fandi Othman (hamstring) and strikers Izzaq Faris Ramlan (meniscus tear) and Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim (ankle) joined Wan Zaharulnizam Wan Zakaria in being ruled out of the final.

Irfan Fazail is also struggling to shake off an ankle problem to at least make the bench as Malaysia have just 13 outfield players to select from.

Zubir Azmi could make his first appearance at left-back with Asraruddin Putra Omar being pushed up the left flank while A. Thamil Arasu may replace Syahrul on the right.

"The boys are very tired as you saw in the first half against Myanmar. With the final, we will be playing four matches in eight days. We will need fresh legs tomorrow (today).

"They also had to deal with an unbelievable amount of pressure. Before coming here people were not saying make the semi-finals or final, they were saying come back with the gold medal.

"Given the group that we were in, it is a major achievement just to be in the final. We've taken it one game at a time, and now that we're in the final, that's it. We are here and going for it," added Kim Swee, who will return to the bench today.

Indonesia's attacking threat will be Kim Swee's main focus as Patrich Wanggai and Titus Bonai have scored nine goals between them here.

Malaysia will seek to negate their speed on the flanks and attempt to catch Indonesia, who defeated Vietnam 2-0 on Saturday, by controlling the tempo of the game on the break.

"Patrich, Titus and Okto (Maniani). These are the players to watch out for. Don't forget their captain (Egi Malgiansyah). We need to minimise their pace on the flanks.

"And for that I need fast players of our own. We have already lost four players to injuries but I have an idea who to put in," said Kim Swee.

No matter what happens, Kim Swee is certain his players will give nothing short of their best.

"There is no fear in them. They seem to prefer playing Indonesia than Vietnam in the final. I tested one of them by saying we'd have to travel in (armoured personnel carrier) Barracudas again, and he said 'it's normal, coach'.

"That shows they are ready," said Kim Swee, swelling with pride.

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