Thursday, 1 March 2012

Malaysia coach Rajagobal not worried over team winless in six matches

Six international matches without a win can be considered a rut by any definition but national coach K. Rajagobal does not believe it paints a true picture of the national team's form.

Ahead of Malaysia's friendly against the 2010 AFF Cup semi-finalists Philippines in Manila today, the national team will be under pressure to pick up the pieces from a disappointing World Cup qualifying campaign and a string of friendly defeats last year.

Not since a 2-1 win over Taiwan in Bukit Jalil on June 29, 2011 in a World Cup first round, first leg qualifier,  have  the national team enjoyed a win.

Defeats to Taiwan in the return leg, Singapore, India and Australia and draws against Singapore and India have followed as Rajagobal continuously tinkers with his squad.

A staggering 50 players featured in Malaysia's 10 international games last season as Rajagobal looks to increase his options ahead of the defence of the AFF Cup in November-December.

“Yes, we have lost to Taiwan and Singapore in the World Cup qualifiers, to a world-class Australia team and to India when we did not have many players and I was trying out new players,” said Rajagobal.

“We've never really had a full squad and if we're losing with a full squad then I would be concerned and worried. No team want to lose and even with new faces in the squad, we still want to win.

“Philippines are taking this game seriously as they are preparing for the AFC Challenge Cup and have just returned from Dubai.

"They are reaching their peak while we are playing our first international match this year. For us, it is to see the cohesion in the team, to look at our weaknesses and see where we need to strengthen.

“In playing a good and strong team, it will be a good and healthy challenge for the players. I don't want them to rest on their laurels and I want to see whether we are improving.”

The Rizal Memorial Stadium, tonight's venue, holds unhappy memories for Malaysian football as it is the scene of Philippines’ huge 1-0 upset of the then defending champions Malaysia at the 1991 Sea Games.   Since then,  Malaysia have won all four meetings against Philippines, scoring 19 goals against one, including a 4-0 win in their last clash at the 2007 Asean Championship in Bangkok.

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