NATIONAL Head Coach Kim Pan Gon today opened up about the immense pressure he has faced in guiding the Harimau Malaya squad since taking charge in January 2022.

Despite the challenges, the former Korean Football Association (KFA) team director expressed confidence in his ability to lead the team and contribute to the growth of Malaysian football.

Reflecting on his achievements during his reign, the 54-year-old South Korean believes that his efforts have demonstrated his dedication and optimism about shaping a promising future for the team.

“As a coach, all the pressure on my shoulders from tournament to tournament, but I believe I proved in the last two years to give the best to Malaysian football, so I convinced myself that we can give the best thing for the future as well.

“Sometimes there is a lot of pressure but I have to overcome, but if something happens (sacking) that is my destiny, so as a coach I always need to be ready,” he told a pre-match press conference here today ahead of tomorrow’s clash between Malaysia and South Korea in the last Group E match of the 2023 Asian Cup.

He was responding to whether he felt he would get support from the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) to continue leading the national team despite the underwhelming performance in the Asian Cup campaign this time.

To this, Pan firmly asserted his determination to overcome the challenges and highlighted the necessity of maintaining a positive mindset and removing any negativity or fear associated with the role.

“I need to take out all the negative things, fear, all I need to take it out. I need to be strong and positive to run the team,” he said.

Malaysia will face two-time Asian Cup champions South Korea at the Al Janoub Stadium here, tomorrow on a mission to collect at least one point after losing their previous two matches, 0-4 at the hands of Jordan and 0-1 against Bahrain.

The two defeats denied Malaysia the chance to create history by qualifying for the round of 16 for the first time, which was Pan Gon’s personal goal.

Before they participated in the Asian Cup, the Harimau Malaya under Pan Gon recorded 18 wins, four draws and five losses from a total of 27 matches in all competitions.

Malaysia is also on the right track to qualify for the first time for the third round of World Cup Qualifiers which has seen them leading the competition in Group D with six points after defeating Kyrgyzstan 4-3 and Taiwan 1-0 in November.

Harimau Malaya is scheduled to meet Oman away on March 21 and host the team on March 26, followed by Kyrgyzstan away on June 6 before hosting Taiwan on June 11.–Bernama

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