KUALA LUMPUR:National football team head coach Kim Pan Gon has such confidence in his Harimau Malaya charges that he has requested for nothing less than a win when they go up against Taiwan in their second Group D 2026 World Cup/2027 Asian Cup qualifying match tomorrow.
A win at Taipei Municipal Stadium will brighten Malaysia’s chances of making it to the third round of the World Cup qualifiers and bolster their chances for an Asian Cup final berth after their 4-3 victory against Kyrgyzstan, 97th in world rankings, in their opening match at Bukit Jalil Stadium on Thursday.
“After a good result at home, this game is the most crucial for us, though it comes with some positive pressure. We know Taiwan has got good results recently, the team has improved under new coach (Gary White) and (are) very strong at home.
“We fully respect the team and even the history, but we have to create new history as well. We will humbly approach this game to win for Malaysia...tomorrow will be a big fight for us to get the three points, but we will not step back,” he said during today’s pre-match press conference in Taipei.
Pan Gon’s optimism for a win is bolstered by information on the Taiwan team gleaned by performance analysis coach Lim Jaehun.
“He (Jaehun) had gave us a lot of information, like some naturalised players, some players play in China, and some very much experienced ones. And in my impression from previous experience, Taiwan players are always disciplined, work very hard, solid and physically have good body condition as well as athletically good runners,” he said, adding that he hoped the Malaysians will keep a clean sheet after having conceded 10 goals in the last five matches.
Meanwhile, national defender Dion Cools shared that the team’s desire for a win tomorrow would far outweigh any pressure they felt, and he was confident that they would be able to deliver the three points sought by their head coach.
“A total of six games (in the qualifiers), we won the first and next game we need to take very seriously. It is a good opportunity for us, we know it is a tough game tomorrow, I think we believe this squad could achieve something.
“We should go all out for a win regardless playing against a higher or lower ranked team. I think the boys are all fully prepared, though it is going to be very tough,” he said.
History is not on Malaysia’s side, who are currently ranked 137th, as they have lost two of their past three meetings against 152nd ranked Taiwan - a 2-1 home win during a World Cup qualifier in 2011, then a 2-3 away loss in the same qualifer, and finally a 0-2 defeat in a 2018 friendly in Taiwan.
Although Taiwan were dealt a 0-3 defeat at the hands of Oman in their first qualifying match away at Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat on Thursday, they have yet to lose at home this year, having drawn against two higher-ranking teams, Thailand (2-2) and the Philippines (1-1) in friendly matches, and even chalked up an impressive 4-0 win over Timor Leste in the World Cup qualifying playoffs. -Bernama