Harimau Malaya need to register away wins during Tier 1 friendlies in China

PETALING JAYA: National head coach Kim Pan Gon (pix) wants his players to seize the opportunity of playing against Syria and China in two Tier 1 International friendlies in Chengdu, China on Sept 6 and 9, to register away victories.

The South Korean coach said when the Harimau Malaya squad comes up against two formidable teams that are ranked among the top 100 teams in the world, a win would be crucial to gauge the team before preparing for the 2026 World Cup/2027 Asian Cup Qualifiers in November.

“All away games are difficult. Playing at home we only lost once to Bahrain but when playing away we lost to Vietnam and Thailand. Away matches are different in terms of conditions, supporters and everything.

“We will face the World Cup and Asian Cup Qualifiers on a ‘home and away’ basis and also away matches are very important including all the Asian Cup matches next year are away. It’s good for us and we will use this opportunity to gain experience playing with other teams away from home,“ he said.

Pan Gon was speaking to reporters when met on the first day of the squad’s training session at Wisma Persatuan Bolasepak Malaysia (FAM), Kelana Jaya, here today.

The Harimau Malaya squad has registered four consecutive wins in international friendlies but all those matches were played on home turf.

Kicking off their campaign, Malaysia edged Turkmenistan 1-0 and Hong Kong 2-0 in Johor during the month of March and defeated Solomon Islands 4-1 and Papua New Guinea 10-0 in Terengganu last June.

For the first training session, the FAM has called up Kuala Lumpur City FC player Azri Ab Ghani who was in the standby list.

The decision to call up Azri was to fill in the spot vacated by Sabah FC goalkeeper Damien Lim who had to skip the training camp due to an injury.

Meanwhile, Johor Darul Ta’zim midfielder Nathaniel Shio Hong Wan was also unable to join the training camp after suffering an injury but his place was not filled by anyone from the standby list. -Bernama