Safiq calls for fans to make their presence felt at Hang Jebat Stadium

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Safiq Rahim calls on the support of fans for the crucial Asian Cup qualifier against Hong Kong that can help turn the tide in favour of Malaysia

Malaysia have a chance to pick up their first positive result under new management and the guidance of Eduardo 'Nelo' Vingada when they take on Hong Kong in the 2019 Asian Cup qualifier at Hang Jebat Stadium on Tuesday.

Having started his reign with a defeat against Lebanon in Malaysia's opening fixture in Group B, it was soon followed by two more defeats at the hands of Syria and then Myanmar. It does not make for happy reading but all Malayan Tigers fans would gladly accept those two defeats if it meant a win on Tuesday.

The Portuguese Vingada pointed out during his pre-match press conference on Monday that while the matches in which he has presided over have been defeats, the team as a whole has gone through a positive phase of improvement.

The 64-year-old former Saudi Arabia head coach is hoping for the team to find one final element that would change their fortunes around and that could start against Hong Kong. If the team could find it in them to remained vigilant throughout the entire match, they may well be on their way to start picking up valuable points in the group.

"We have a very crucial game for our target. We are here to develop, to bring better solutions and to change the negative results that have happened in the last 2 - 3 years. And now we are still with the negative results but the performance I believe in all games, we are near to achieve positive results."

"We'll do our best to get the three points because it's the most important. We are getting better and better, especially against Myanmar for best part of 70 minutes, we were in control and good in possession.

"But to be honest, what is missing in our team is this wish to sometimes to be realistic and play for the result. Sometimes we have to play well but sometimes we have to play for the result," said Vingada.

The arrival of Francisco 'Kiko' Insa Bohigues into the squad for this second training camp under Vingada has seen the Pahang player being deployed in the defensive midfield role. A choice that frees up the defensive responsibilities from Safiq Rahim which allows the mercurial midfielder to focus on providing the ammunition in attack.

The captain of Johor Darul Ta'zim knows that Malaysia can ill-afford to lose to Hong Kong, a win could set Malaysia on their way to pick up one of the two spots that will guarantee a place in the finals. Having seen the effect fans had for the junior team in the recently concluded 2017 KL SEA Games, Safiq is hoping to get a boost from the stands.

"Us as players want support. We cannot deny that we want support from everyone. We hope the fans will turn up for the game tomorrow and with their presence, it will spur us on to be extra motivated to get a good result," said Safiq.

The last two matches that were held on home soil both in Johor Bahru and last month in Melaka did not see a full stadium but the Malaysia captain is hoping that would change come Tuesday.

The Malayan Ultras who had to forgo their usual support in the SEA Games final due to ticketing difficulties have pledged to give their support for this Hong Kong match. Their presence could well be the extra advantage that Malaysia need to start pushing their way up Group B.

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