Vingada defends team selection as reaction following first defeat to DPR Korea

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Incredibly, Nelo Vingada did not think that his players were strong enough to handle criticism from first match's defeat.

Malaysia bid goodbye to 2019 Asian Cup after a 1-4 defeat to DPR Korea in Monday night's action made it mathematically impossible to finish second in Group B of the final qualifying stage. The result meant that in both matches played at I-Mobile Stadium in Buriram, Thailand finished with the same scoreline.

Kim Su Yong's first half hat-trick made what was a difficult task became impossible, despite a much improved second half performance from the Malayan Tigers. Much of the discussion that started when the team sheet was released, was on Eduardo 'Nelo' Vingada's selection.

On one hand, the fact that Vingada made eight changes from a side that lost 4-1 in the first outing isn't completely a surprise but considering that every single one from Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) was only on the bench, left everyone wondering just what had happened.

"I saw how the JDT players were affected by what was said in social media after the first loss. They wanted and were prepared to play but I needed to protect them and it's my decision as a coach," said Vingada in the post-match press conference.

Despite having completed a one-match ban, captain Safiq Rahim only started from the bench. As did his JDT team mates like Fadhli Shas, S. Kunanlan and Hazwan Bakri. In place of them four - Ahmad Khairil Anuar, Adam Nor Azlin, Amirul Azhan and Syafiq Ahmad all made their first ever senior team appearance.

Granted, the four did themselves justice with creditable performances, it still left a lot of questions left to be answered that the players Vingada left on the bench were affected because of what is said in social media. 

DPR Korea remains a team that is still a big distant away from Malaysia as the final result showed but Vingada could still gain some positive from what he saw out on the pitch in the second 90 minutes against the higher ranked Far East side.

"The players reacted today. We have no doubt about Korea's superiority but the there were positives from today (Monday). We brought six Under-22 players and today four started. All of them played with good intensity and it proves that there's a future. I'm sad for the result but I'm proud of the way these players played without fear." 

"We need to bridge the gap between the juniors and the seniors. I'll be looking to bring in players between the age of 18 - 26. Of course the older players will still be involved but we need to start bridging the gap before next year's Suzuki Cup," added Vingada.

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