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Wednesday October 16, 2013 MYT 3:57:00 PM
Wednesday October 16, 2013 MYT 3:58:45 PM
by k. rajan
Datuk K. Rajagopal: 'The players showed plenty of commitment and should have come away with three points, but a point against a strong team like Bahrain is still very encouraging.' – Bernama Photo
PETALING JAYA: National football coach Datuk K. Rajagopal has heaped praises on his men after they staged a comeback to hold fancied Bahrain 1-1 in their 2015 Asian Cup Group D qualifier at the Shah Alam Stadium on Tuesday.
Rajagopal said his side still have a good chance of making it to Asia’s premier tournament with three more matches to play.
Bahrain now leads the group with seven points ahead of Qatar who have six points, followed by Malaysia with four points, and Yemen prop the group without a single point.
The top two teams from the five groups will qualify for the Finals together with one third-best team. Malaysia are in the driver’s seat for the best third-placed spot.
“I think this is our best match in the qualifiers so far and I’m proud of my boys ... they gave their best in the match,” said Rajagopal in the post-match press conference.
“Norshahrul (Idlan Talaha) played very well despite missing our training stint in China, the captain (Safiq Rahim) also had a good game, and even Amri (Yahyah) played really well despite his age.
“The players showed plenty of commitment and should have come away with three points, but a point against a strong team like Bahrain is still very encouraging.”
Rajagopal also took a dig against his critics and said that the result against Bahrain proved that his tinkering with the team worked well as his second stringers put on a good show.
“Everyone says I experiment, I really don’t know where this word came from .... If you don’t give these players a chance, they will not get an opportunity to prove themselves,” said Rajagopal.
The 57-year-old coach however was too kind with his praises as his side clearly failed to collect the full points from a very ordinary Bahrain side which had players suffering cramps.
Bahrain coach Anthony Hudson meanwhile said he was not happy with the result and was baffled as to why his players were picking up cramps.
“I’m not happy with the point but it turned out to be a very good point for us and if we had our full team the outcome would have been different,” said the 32-year-old Englishman.
“It’s quite strange that a number of our players suffered cramps ... I don’t think we over-trained and it’s something we have to look at before our next match.”
Malaysia are scheduled to play Kuwait in a friendly before they take on Bahrain next at the Bahrain National Stadium in Manama on Nov 15.
Tags / Keywords:
football, Asian Cup, Malaysia, Rajagopal, Bahrain
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