Going for slice of history

We can do it: Harimau Malaya coach Kim Pan-gon (left) says they need to pull off another upset to revive their chance in the World Cup qualifiers. — Bernama

But Pan-gon knows qualifying task won’t be a cakewalk in Bishkek

PETALING JAYA: The national football team’s poor away record is a worry for coach Kim Pan-gon ahead of the World Cup 2026-Asian Cup 2027 second round qualifier against Kyrgyzstan in Bishkek on June 6.

The Harimau Malaya have only notched three wins out of 13 matches played abroad since Pan-gon took over at the beginning of 2022.

They have played a total of 31 matches over the last two years. The 13 matches played overseas included the Asian Cup Finals in Qatar in February, the 2022 AFF Cup, the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, the 2027 Asian Cup qualifiers and also international friendlies.

Pan-gon made his debut on a winning note when they beat the Philippines 2-0 at the Singapore National Stadium in March on 2022.

The second and third victories were achieved when Malaysia overcame Myanmar 1-0 at Thuwunna Stadium in the group stage of the AFF Cup 2022 as well as successfully beating Taiwan 1-0 in Taipei in the 2026 World Cup-2027 Asian Cup qualifier in November last year.

Despite successfully holding powerful Asian teams in Tier 1 friendly action like against China (1-1) and Syria (2-2) as well as the memorable match against South Korea (3-3) at the Asian Cup Finals in Qatar, Pan-gon is bracing for a difficult time in Bishkek.Malaysia, ranked No. 138 in the world, stunned world No.100 Kyrgyzstan 4-3 at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil last November and they need to pull off another upset to revive their chance in the World Cup qualifiers.

Malaysia’s World Cup dream took a blow after suffering back-to-back 2-0 defeats to No.77 Oman in March.

The defeat left Malaysia third in Group D with six points after four matches while Kyrgyzstan lead with nine points. Oman are second with also nine points and Taiwan are last without a point.

“Kyrgyzstan are ranked 100 and are the second strongest team in Central Asia after Uzbekistan,” said Pan-gon.

“We were lucky to record a victory (in Bukit Jalil). We were three goals behind but our players managed to come back to win it 4-3.

“That showed the high fighting spirit of the players, they battled until the final whistle.

“But we have to respect the 100 ranking position and also that this is an away match.

“Our (Harimau Malaya) away record is not very good. We played and only won two games against Myanmar and Taiwan, so we are not very strong when playing outside.

“But we hope that the element of surprise and magic can be created again to make the country’s supporters proud,” he said.

After Kyrgyzstan, the national team will return home to take on Taiwan in Bukit Jalil on June 11.

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