KUALA LUMPUR (June 15): National head coach Kim Pan Gon has described himself as a ‘small’ coach after successfully getting Malaysia to end an excruciating 42-year drought to qualify on merit for the 2023 Asian Cup, last night.
Pan Gon said the historic success achieved by the Harimau Malaya squad was not because of him alone but the support given to him in developing the country’s football by all parties.
“I’m a ‘small’ coach you know, I came here I ask everybody to help and got special support from Super League teams and with FAM I demanded a lot, I think it was tough for them but he (president) tries his best to make it happened.
“Like in this training camp, we improved a lot in terms of infrastructure, we got the best things. I do nothing, everybody here did a good job,” the 53-year-old South Korean coach said at a post-match press conference after Malaysia trashed Bangladesh 4-1 at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil to seal a spot in the Asian Cup.
In their final Group E match of the Asian Cup Qualifiers, Malaysia clinched a convincing win and ended with six points to finish behind champions Bahrain thus booking their ticket to the prestigious competition as one of the best five runners-up.
The goals were scored by Muhammad Safawi Rasid, Dion Cools, Muhammad Syafiq Ahmad, and substitute Darren Lok, while Bangladesh got their consolation goal through Mohammad Ibrahim.
Commenting further, Pan Gon said he also made Johor Darul Ta’zim’s (JDT) achievement by qualifying for the knockout stage of the AFC Champions League for the first time last April as an example in completing the task to guide his team to the Asian Cup.
The former Hong Kong head coach and Korea Football Association (KFA) national team director said apart from JDT, other local clubs also played their part by putting in the best effort to produce quality players.
“I can see a lot of good potential players, this is what a Malaysia football has done, not me,” he said while admitting if Malaysia did not have a strong football foundation, then it will be difficult for him to carry out the two missions that have been set for him, namely to qualify for the Asian Cup and win the upcoming AFF Cup.
For the records, Malaysia last played in the Asian Cup in 2007 when they co-hosted the tournament, but it has been more than 40 years of failing to advance on merit since the 1980 edition in Kuwait. — Bernama