KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is set to begin defense of their AFF Suzuki Cup football title this Sunday, but many in the country are worried that they are not up to the task after suffering a series of defeats in recent months to countries they should have defeated.
“We are really wondering if this Malaysia team has what it takes,” said football fan and Malaysian Yussif. He told Bikyamasr.com that “the recent form doesn’t rally us behind the team as in years’ past, but we’ll see what they do on the field.”
Southeast Asian champions Malaysia host neighbor Singapore in what is set to be an intense atmosphere at Kuala Lumpur’s Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Sunday, with the home fans hoping to see their team repeat their title run of 2010.
The Tigers showed bite in that tournament when they overcame a poor start to win the Southeast Asian title for the first time with a 4-2 aggregate victory over Indonesia in the final.
Coach K. Rajagobal has maintained the nucleus of that winning side but their form has dipped alarmingly with warm-up losses to Vietnam and Thailand, and draws at home against unfancied Hong Kong and Bangladesh.
Rajagobal was livid after Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Bangladesh and warned he would make “drastic changes” if they slip-up again this weekend.
“We didn’t get the desired result against Bangladesh and I’ll take stern action if we don’t get a positive result against Singapore,” he said.
“I’m concerned with the team’s display… Another below-par performance will force me to make drastic changes to the team.”
For Malaysians and football fans in the region, the tournament is a rare chance to see all the countries on the same field, competing for bragging rights for the next two years.
“I hope we show spirit and battle,” added Yussif.
BMTags: Bukit Jalil National Stadium, drastic changes, Coach K. Rajagobal