KUALA LUMPUR: The myriad of criticisms against the national football team following their dismal performance at the AFF Suzuki Cup in Singapore last month has somehow impacted the national Under-23 team, also known as Harimau Muda.
In fact, coach Brad Maloney’s boys are now at risk of suffering the same fate if they fail to perform at the upcoming AFF Under-23 Championship and Under-23 Asia Cup.
Terengganu 11 striker Mohd Nur Azfar Fikri Azhar, for one, admitted that he was also affected by the various negative reactions and extreme criticism thrown at the Harimau Malaya team on social media.
“We try to stay positive,” said Azfar after the first day of their centralised training camp at the PKNS Sports Complex yesterday.
“When the supporters criticise us, we just respond with a victory. If we emerge as winners, there will be no criticism.”
The 22-year-old player, however, hoped that the fans would also offer some positive words and morale boosters for the squad members rather than being too emotional in their comments.
Sharing a similar sentiment was Johor Darul Ta’zim striker Mohd Alif Abdul Mutalib, who described that all forms of extreme criticism would not bring any good to the players and the team.
“I view them all positively. We can only do our best to win every match. We hope our fans will continue to support us to gain victory,” he added.
The players are in preparation for the AFF Under-23 meet in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, from Feb 14-26. — Bernama