BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Having seen his side thumped by Kedah 4-0 in their last league match and almost collapsing to Kuala Lumpur in their quarter-final FA Cup tie, Selangor head coach Nazliazmi Nasir has admitted that he and the Red Giants have been under intense scrutiny by their own fans.
Speaking to Goal before conducting training on Tuesday, he said that he welcomes the supporters' criticism, which to him is something needed by the team.
"Thanks to all the fans who gave us good feeback and constructive comments. These are part and parcel of being a coach, and I hope my players are resilient enough to accept the fans' comments and criticisms.
"It only means that the supporters are passionate about the team and want us to win. We have to look at it positively; the supporters want us to be among the best teams in the country," said the former youth coach.
When asked for his response to the ' Mentaliti Juara ' (A champion's mentality) tagline propagated by one of Selangor's supporter groups; ultraSel from the start of the season, Nazliazmi remarked that the team and their ultra fans are essentially on the same page.
"It (the tagline) is a good signal from our supporters to us; the players and me as the head coach. I don't take it as undue pressure as that mentality is something that every player needs to have, in order to maintain the performance level of their team and themselves," said the coach.
And it is this winning mentality that he is hoping to instill within his men when they host bottom-placed Negeri Sembilan in their Malaysia Super League (MSL) match this Saturday, and in their next four league encounters. This is because the Red Giants now sit precariously one spot above the relegation zone, in tenth place.
"If you ask me, as the head coach and playing at home, we must go for the three points. A win will also boost our morale ahead of our next four MSL encounters; against JDT and PKNP FC and the reverse fixtures.
"These are very challenging matches so I want the players to prepare physically as well as mentally. We have to correct the weaknesses we have, and shift our focus from the FA Cup to the league for the time being," explained Nazliazmi.
But ahead of their encounter against the Deers, player availability is against Nazliazmi. Indonesian duo Evan Dimas Darmono and Ilham Udin Armaiyn are away on national team duty, while Syahmi Safari is still undergoing recovery and Azamuddin Akil is injured again.
Thankfully, none of his players are suspended for the match. In their second leg near-collapse against Kuala Lumpur, the Red Giants were without three suspended senior players; Willian Pacheco, Amri Yahyah and Halim Zainal.
"I hope the two of them (Evan and Ilham) are available for the JDT clash. We'll try (to secure their return), but logically speaking it seems that they will miss both matches.
"Azamuddin is injured again but it's nothing serious, so he may only be absent just for a short while. Syahmi is recovering well and undergoing physiotherapy, but apart from that everyone is fit for this weekend," he remarked.