Kyrgyzstan coach thrives on pressure and urges charges to be spoilers

Potential spoilers: Kyrgyzstan coach Stefan Tarkovic (left) with defender Tamirlan Kozubaev have a game plan to exploit the weaknesses of the Malaysian team. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: Kyrgyzstan manager Stefan Tarkovic admitted that Malaysia will not be easy opponents to handle in their opening Group D match of the 2026 World Cup-2027 Asian Cup qualifiers at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil tonight.

Tarkovic said the match against Malaysia can be seen as a benchmark since he just took over the team a few months ago.“I like pressure and pressure is normal in football. This is my biggest game and this (against Malaysia) is the start of our objective to qualify for the next round,” he said at the pre-match press conference yesterday.

“Everyone dreams of going to the World Cup, so do we and to qualify for the World Cup, we have to pass this round first. We will fight all the way to achieve this dream.

“Even though Oman are the favourites, I still see this as a challenging competition. I think the two teams that qualify for the next round will be decided on the last day of the qualifiers.

Tarkovic added his team may be ranked higher but they still need to be careful with the threat that Pan Gon’s squad can present.

Kyrgyzstan are ranked 97th in the world while hosts Malaysia are ranked 137th.

“I think Malaysia are a good team but we have also analysed their performances and also the performances of individual players. Everything depends on the action on the field later.

“We need to take advantage of their weaknesses and try to counter their strengths. I expect this to be an intense match and we need to give a performance of the highest level,” he said.

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