CHENG HOE CALLS THE SHOTS, NOT OTHERS

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 – National football chief coach Tan Cheng Hoe sends his usual morning greetings without fail – no matter where he is on the day.
Despite his busy schedule in Dubai, where the Harimau Malaya is battling to stay alive in  Group G of the World Cup 2022/Asia Cup 2023 qualifiers, I received a very motivating message from Cheng Hoe that carries a lot of meaning.
It read:
“A DREAM DOES NOT BECOME A REALITY THROUGH MAGIC; IT TAKES SWEAT, DETERMINATION AND HARD WORK.”
It simply means that Malaysia has a mountain to scale when the team faces group leaders Vietnam at the Al-Maktoum Stadium on Friday (11 June) in a do-or-die match. It is 12.45 am (June 12) in Malaysia due to the time difference.
Malaysia lost its first second-round match in Dubai, against hosts the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 4-0 and the defeat drew flak, especially on social media.
Individual players were singled out and naturalised Malaysians Guilherme De Paula (Brazil) and Liridon Krasniqi (Kosovo) were the main targets.
Cheng Hoe, admits that the players were down and out after the big defeat to the UAE with The Whites netting twice in injury time.
Until then Malaysia was still in the picture despite a below-par performance.
The critics want Cheng Hoe to make changes to the team and some even suggested who should be fielded and who should be on the bench.
As the head coach, Cheng Hoe calls the shots because he has his own match plans after seeing the Vietnamese defeated Indonesia 4-0.
He is aware that Vietnam’s wily South Korean coach Park Hang-Seo has built the team into a strong contender.
The Korean has a young team that has been together over the years. It has a solid team with depth on the bench.
However, Vietnam will be without their ace – Nguyen Quang Hai who will sit out the match against Malaysia to serve a one-match suspension.
It does not make Malaysia’s task any easier. Malaysia needs to be braver with the ball and be hungry for goals and success will come.
Cheng Hoe, speaking from Dubai on Thursday, gave strong hints that Guilherme and Liridon will feature in his match plans.
However, he did not reveal if they will be in the first team or start from the bench.
“We must show sterner stuff and aggressiveness. Vietnam is fast and strong on counterattacks and we need to break this rhythm,” said Cheng Hoe adding that team spirit is high and the players focused on getting a positive result.
Cheng Hoe also confirmed that Junior Eldstal will miss the Vietnam match because of a heel injury he sustained in the match against the UAE.
Another Thailand-based player Dominic Tan could replace Eldstal.
As Cheng Hoe’s message said: “IT TAKES SWEAT, DETERMINATION AND HARD WORK” and we hope that it will be a positive result and the three points will haul Malaysia back on track to qualify for the Asia Cup.
*(Pic credit to FAM Media)

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