Malaysia didn’t get off to a favourable start under newly-appointed head coach, Nelo Vingada, last night at the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers fixture.
The Tigers succumbed to a 2-1 defeat to Lebanon, throwing away their hard-earned lead from the first half. Lebanon struck back twice in the second half through Rabih Ataya, as the The Cedars went on to clinch a crucial win at the Larkin.
Malaysia displayed a solid performance in the first half, but somehow failed to keep that momentum going, especially after several changes were made to the squad.
Afif Amiruddin’s entry, for example, raised a lot of eyebrows as he played in the midfield, rather than his usual position in the defence.
“I think that whoever the coach picks need to give their full commitment to the game. There’s no problem with who comes on, but they need to give their all when they’re on the pitch.” Safiq told the press after the match.
“I won’t judge or blame the coach, he’s only had 10 full days with the squad. It’s also up to the players. The management have given us the best resources, so now it’s up to the players to give it our best and help out the coach as well.”
Safiq also admitted that Rabih Ataya’s entry changed the game and caused a lot of problems for the Tigers.
“Lebanon’s player No. 20 made things difficult for us when he came on. He caused a lot of trouble and changed the game.” said Safiq, who also noted that the team lack in confidence when pressuring their opponents.
“But overall, I think this team has the potential to go far. This defeat is a good lesson for us, we will learn from this. What we also need is more matches. The more we play, the better we will get.”