29/03/2023 10:31 AM

ISKANDAR PUTERI, March 29 (Bernama) -- National head coach Kim Pan Gon feels his squad has shown great improvement even though their performance has not reached the desired heights after defeating Hong Kong 2-0 in a Tier 1 international friendly at the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium here, last night.

He said Harimau Malaya’s winning habit at home soil after only losing to Bahrain 1-2 in the 2023 Asian Cup Qualifying round in Kuala Lumpur in June last year, however made him happy.

“The objectives are still ongoing but I (can) feel the improvement...I think there's still room for improvement and this is a fact, we are at a certain level, but I’m happy we keep that winning habit. We played at home since last March and we only lost to Bahrain.

“This is our fortress, so anyone coming we hit them. We will try to make our home a fortress and to keep the winning habit...that’s important,” he told the post-match press conference here last night.

Commenting further, the 53-year-old South Korean said the team had not been able to maintain the intensity of the game, describing his men needed to prolong stability as well as aggressiveness.

In the clash against 146th-ranked Hong Kong last night, Muhammad Akhyar Abdul Rashid and Mohamad Faisal Abdul Halim each scored in the first half to help Malaysia bag their second win during the FIFA international match window this month.

Last night's success saw Pan Gon's men record their second consecutive win against Hong Kong after also recording a 2-0 victory in a Tier 1 international friendly in Kuala Lumpur in June last year.

The Harimau Malaya squad, which decided to undergo a central training camp and play in Johor during this FIFA international match window, also defeated the 135th-ranked team, Turkmenistan 1-0 at the same venue, last Thursday.

“Thank you to TMJ (Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim) for providing all the good facilities here. We had a good time and preparation for these two games and we enjoyed it.

“Thank you to FAM president (Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin) for his full support, thank you to the fans who still come to support us during Ramadan, because of all the supports received, we could fight for the name of Malaysia. Tonight (last night) was very tough but still a good win,” Pan Gon said.

Meanwhile, Pan Gon vowed to help the national players to reach their best potential to ensure the team continues to show improvement ahead of next June's FIFA international match window.

“Now the players go back to their respective clubs, I want to see all the players, every single game I want to see them, you can see that some players do not have enough game fitness. So I want to encourage them to play that’s my hope and I think we can move forward,” he said.


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