KUALA LUMPUR: National team head coach Kim Pan Gon (pix) considers Malaysia on par with the world’s top 100 teams after the Harimau Malaya squad drew 2-2 with Syria in a Tier 1 international match in Chengdu, China yesterday.
Pan Gon said his team could compete with Syria although the Qasioun Eagles are ranked 94th in the world compared to Malaysia in 136th position.
“Generally, in the first half our performance was very good; we are level to compete with the 94th team in the world.
“I think there were two mistakes that cost us but in the second half we showed to the people our Malaysian mentality and Harimau Malaya attitude to catch up and fight until the end,” he said after the match at the East-Town Football Park Stadium.
A goal each from substitutes Muhammad Akhyar Abdul Rashid and Darren Lok in the second half denied Syria a win although they took a 2-0 lead in the first half through Mardek Mrdkian and Yasin Alsamya.
Pan Gon described the comeback from two goals behind as very important because it could boost the players’ confidence to face pressure when trailing.
The 54-year-old South Korean said he would continue to do tactical experiments when facing China in another Tier 1 international match this Saturday to see the national squad’s ability against a superior team.
“Now we want to test some tactical approaches and also to taste the strength of the 80th-ranked team. We want to know where we are, so we will continuously attack them. I think our characteristics must be aggressive and challenging. We must do our best to fight and try to win,” he said.
Meanwhile, Darren admitted that the team were a little disappointed for not being able to clinch a win but were still happy with the draw.
Muhammad Akhyar, on the other hand, hopes that the team can maintain the momentum they showed in the second half against Syria when they lock horns with China this Saturday. - Bernama