Kim Swee bewildered by fans’ wrath after national team drew with the Philippines

Ronny Harun (right) and teammates going thru a routine under the watchful eyes of national coach Ong Kim Swee during the national team training at Wisma FAM, March 14, 2017. GLENN GUAN/The Star

PETALING JAYA: National football coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee (pic) is a confused man.

The former international who said Malay­sia’s goalless draw against the Philippines, ranked 124th in the world, was a fair result has surprisingly drawn criticism from the fans.

“I don’t understand what they want from us. When we lost or drew with lower ranked teams in friendlies last year they called us clowns.

“Now when we drew with the Philippines – a team almost 40 points higher than us ... they call us failures,” lamented Kim Swee.

“As I said, for us to get a point away from home is valuable. It is tough to play against the Filipinos. They are an improved side with their naturalised players.

“We have a mixed blend of players and no superstars. We had a chance to win the game in the closing stages but just could not finish it.

“The draw will give us more ranking points than the Philippines but yet people are complaining,” said Kim Swee on arrival with the team from Manila yesterday.

Malaysia, ranked 161, came close to snatching a late winner but substitute S. Veenod squandered a sitter with only the goalkeeper to beat in the 89th minute.

The friendly at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on Wednesday was Malaysia’s first international match of the year.

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) were criticised for sending the national team on a three-week playing tour against lower-ranked Oceania teams last year.

Malaysia (then ranked No. 173) lost to world No. 193 Papua New Guinea 2-0, beat world No. 183 New Caledonia 2-1 and drew 1-1 with world No. 186 Fiji.

Kim Swee said it is difficult to please everyone and his immediate task is to prepare his players for the 2019 Asian Cup qualifying tournament.

Malaysia will take on North Korea in the opening Group B match at a neutral venue on June 11 after relations between the two nations soured over a diplomatic incident at an airport in Kuala Lumpur last month.

“We have the fasting month coming up in May. There is not much time as the players are also involved in the domestic and AFC Cup competitions,” added Kim Swee.

For the Asian Cup qualifiers, Malaysia also have Lebanon and Hong Kong for company.

The top two teams from the six groups in the qualifiers will join 12 other sides in the 2019 Finals in the United Arab Emirates.

Twelve teams – defending champions Australia, China, Iraq, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Thailand, Uzbekistan and hosts UAE – have qualified for the expanded 24-team Finals.

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