KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 – National football chief coach Tan Cheng Hoe is doing everything extra to motivate his players for Malaysia’s second-round match against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Dubai on June 3 after the 2-0 defeat to Bahrain in a Tier international friendly in Manama on Friday.
It was Malaysia’s second defeat after losing 4-1 to Kuwait in another friendly which was played in Dubai on May 23.
Both matches were part of Malaysia’s preparation for the Group G qualifiers for the World Cup 2022/Asia Cup 2023.
The harsh lessons from the two defeats need to be arrested by Harimau Malaya when they face UAE, Vietnam (June 11) and Thailand on June 15 in a bid to advance to the next round.
Malaysia did show improvement in their overall game against Bahrain and it is a plus factor that has given Cheng Hoe and the team confidence when they go into the second-round battle in the group.
Cheng Hoe, who turns 53 on Sunday (May 30), is aware that he has a mammoth task on his hands to keep the nation’s flag flying in Dubai.
He is keeping his fingers crossed that things will fall into pieces after watching his team lose to Bahrain due to individual mistakes, poor finishing and losing focus after conceding a penalty.
“We made two costly mistakes and conceded two goals. It took away the rhythm in our game and also the confidence. One thing led to another and some players lost focus. Emotions also set in and it affected our game,” said Cheng Hoe from Manama.
Safawi Rasid, who had picked up a booking in the match, kicked a water bottle that allegedly hit the linesman after he was substituted.
The fourth official reported the incident to the referee who booked Safawi and was red-carded following his second booking.
“We have to keep our emotions in check. Emotions can be costly,” added Cheng Hoe, adding that Safawi will be available for the matches in the qualifiers.
Cheng Hoe was even seen talking to the referee on the incident, with the hope of avoiding Safawi a second booking but to no avail.
The Malaysians conceded the first goal in the 41st minute when Irfan Zakaria felled Mahdi Abduljabbar inside the box.
Mahdi picked himself to score from the spot, beating goalkeeper Farizal Marlias all the way.
Later Farizal gave away a soft goal in the 61st minute. Farizal fumbled with Liridon Krasniqi’s back pass and lost his footing which allowed substitute Jassim Marhoon to score Bahrain’s second goal.
Putting that aside, Cheng Hoe has been working on the team, motivating the players through discussions to keep the team spirit.
The Harimau Malaya will return to Dubai on Monday.
HubMedia wishes Cheng Hoe a “Very¬†Happy Birthday.” To the national team, best of luck in Dubai and a place in the next round will be a perfect belated birthday present for Cheng Hoe.
(Pic credit to FAM Media)

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