Pan Gon won’t ‘cry in a corner’ without Arif Aiman, Dos Santos

JOHOR BAHRU: National head coach Kim Pan Gon appears to be relaxed, realistic and ready for a challenge without Arif Aiman Mohd Hanapi and Endrick Dos Santos when Malaysia face Hong Kong in a Tier 1 international friendly match tomorrow night.

Ahead of the clash at the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium in Iskandar Puteri, the 53-year-old South Korean said that throughout his 12 years of experience working with various national teams, he did not always get the starting line-up he wanted.

He said the absence of the two Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) players will not have a big impact and is confident that the remaining 25 players in the squad will be able to implement the team’s tactics well against Hong Kong.

“I feel sorry for these two players, actually we waited a long time to let them play and showcase their good performance, anyhow in my eight years of experience as a national team coach and four years as manager, I don’t always get the starting line-up as desired. I accept things can’t always be what I like.

“I’m confident we have 25 players and anyone can play. We will play as a team, we not rely on one or two players, so I think it will not be a big effect, we cannot be beautiful but, still, we can be very strong,” he said in a pre-match press conference, here, today.

He said such situations made him a versatile and mentally-strong coach.

“I never give up, I never look down on myself, I must be positive and trust all our players. We play as a team and I think that is very important, (we) don’t rely on any single player,” he said.

Yesterday, Arif Aiman Mohd and Dos Santos were released from the Harimau Malaya squad central training camp here due to injury.

Meanwhile, commenting on tomorrow’s match, Pan Gon hinted that he would make a change by giving a chance to players who were not selected when Malaysia overcame Turkmenistan 1-0 in a Tier 1 international friendly at the Sultan Ibrahim Stadium last Thursday.

“All players gave me more than what I demanded even in training sessions and it pushes us moving forward, maybe tomorrow we will try to put another player to see something, hopefully (the outcome) same as or better than the last game,” he said.

Tomorrow’s match is the second meeting between Malaysia and Hong Kong in nine months after Pan Gon’s squad defeated them 2-0 during a Tier 1 international friendly match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil in June last year.

Before playing Malaysia here, Hong Kong, under the guidance of the Norwegian-born coach Jorn Andersen, drew 1-1 with Singapore at the Mong Kok Stadium in Hong Kong last Thursday. – Bernama