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Malaysia vs Bangladesh: Crunch time for Dollah Salleh

Dollah Salleh’s is on the verge of facing his biggest test as the Malaysian national team’s head coach, with ties against UAE and Saudi Arabia coming up, but the clash against Bangladesh is equally important for them.

It hasn’t been fine and dandy for Dollah. The last time he experienced frustration was during the latter parts of his stint with Selangor. He was rather successful in his tenure with Pahang and went on the secure promotion for PDRM as well.

But since opting to takeover the national team a year ago, he’s been under constant scrutiny. Their failure to do well at the AFF Suzuki Cup was compounded by their erratic form this year – conceding six goals in match, twice. It’s a timely reminder of how brutal international football can be, and things could take a wild turn in the next two weeks.

Photo Credit: AFF
Photo Credit: AFF

But big games aren’t always all about the on-pitch action – it revolves around your mental strength as well. Confidence is almost as important as talent, in these games and that’s precisely why the match against Bangladesh is crucial. There’s always been a ‘defeatist’ vibe around the national team, irrespective of whether the discourse was propagated by fans themselves. But that needs to change.

Bangladesh themselves are preparing for a major game against Australia and while they are reasonable enough to know that victory is rather unlikely, it’s also about creating a strong impression. The Bangladeshis will be down here, looking to test themselves and that provides the perfect platform for Dollah Salleh to capitalize.

The one positive aspect so far, has been the selection. Dollah has called up several fresh faces in the form of Nurridzuan Abu Hassan and even teenage striker S. Kumaahran. Norfarhan’s return to form also comes across as a timely boost, considering that Norshahrul will be absent through injury. The injection of fresh faces will revitalize the squad spirit, and there will now be a renewed sense of belief as well.

Photo Credit: FAM
Photo Credit: FAM

Dollah task? He’s got to keep that belief going. Confidence has to take a higher precedence this time around, there’s nothing more urgent for Dollah then getting his men pumped up for the games against UAE and Saudi Arabia. In fact, the concept is exactly similar to the one adopted by Bangladesh’s head coach Lodewijk de Kruif.

“The players are little tired and I am not pushing them for things like conditional training. It is about having a good feeling and bringing balance among the players before going into the difficult match. We will try to do well and try to give everything for the country,” De Kruif told reporters in Bangladesh recently.

Dollah may be a prime tactician, but he needs to take on a bigger role this time around – being a motivator. Some of the players under his disposal, are fresh, and completely untempered by negative notions that can surround Malaysian football. It’s about getting them to click into the right gear.


A major win against Bangladesh would set them up nicely for the long journey to UAE. It won’t reduce the difficulty of that tie, but it will allow Dollah’s men to play in front of an away crowd, with far more belief and confidence.

Dollah, it’s crunch time.


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