Manager Kim Pan-gon (56), who led Malaysia to the Asian Cup finals for the first time in 43 years, sighed, “What is the probability like this?”
Malaysia (ranked 138th in FIFA rankings), assigned to pot 4, played against Korea (ranked 27th), Jordan (ranked 84th) and Bahrain (ranked 85th) in the 2023 Asian Cup group draw held at the Katara Opera House in Doha, Qatar on the 11th. Because they are tied to the same Group E.
After Malaysia was the first to be listed in Group E, manager Kim’s complexion, which changed every time the rest of the pots were filled, showed his frustration. In a phone call with a reporter on the 12th, a day later, he recalled, “I was in a situation where I was meeting Korea in the last pot, if it wasn’t Saudi Arabia,” and then said, “I wanted to avoid Korea even if I was dealing with three Middle Eastern countries. Aside from the fact that Korea is my homeland, isn’t it the strongest in Asia?”
After stepping down from the Korea Football Association’s National Team Power Reinforcement Committee in January last year, coach Kim took the Malaysian baton. Having led the growth of Korean soccer with former Korean national soccer team coach Paulo Bento, he knows the inside and outside secrets better than anyone else.
However, coach Kim waved his hand at the question, ‘Wouldn’t it be possible for Malaysia to poke a hole in Korea?’ Director Kim said, “It’s really scary because I know everything. He knows the level of each player, the process of preparing for the tournament, and the level of support from the association. It is burdensome because a good director (Jurgen Klinsmann) has also come.”
He said, “If Malaysia is about pot 2 or 3, they were greedy for the Korean game. We do not have the ability to win or win, so we just have the courage to show our best football.”
Coach Kim’s quick abandonment was also influenced by past experiences. He has the pain of leading Hong Kong to the round of 16 at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and losing 0-3 to South Korea. Korea accomplished an unbelievable feat of winning the game without conceding a goal.
Coach Kim, who recalled that time, said, “At that time, Hong Kong’s advance to the round of 16 was a big deal, but we met Korea. While acting as a leader in a foreign country, it was his wish not to meet only Korea. But on the other hand, this has happened twice… ” he said.
However, coach Kim drew the line that Malaysia did not give up on passing the Asian Cup group stage. In this tournament, where 24 countries participate, not only the 1st and 2nd places in each group, but also the top 4 teams in the 3rd place can advance to the round of 16. With the exception of Korea, the remaining two teams should be stretched as much as possible.
Coach Kim said, “The confrontation with Korea, who advanced to the round of 16 at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, will be considered a good memory for the players, but Jordan and Bahrain are different.” Still, it is true that he is an opponent who can achieve good results if he prepares well.” 스포츠토토
What coach Kim believes in is the rapid development of Malaysian soccer players. Malaysia, which was ranked 154th in the FIFA rankings when he first took office, has risen to 138th. By January next year, when the Asian Cup finals will be held, the gap with rivals must be further narrowed. It is evaluated that Malaysia can become an ambush for Group E if coach Kim’s specialty, customized tactics, is combined.