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Malaysian coach Datuk K.Rajagopal has been left encouraged by the 2,000 people who turned up at a shopping mall in Klang to meet and greet four members of his playing squad

The support shown by fans at a meet-and-greet session yesterday has given national head coach Datuk K.Rajagopal much cause for optimism ahead of the AFF Suzuki Cup.

The national team has come under plenty of criticism following some under-par performances in their last few friendly matches.

Despite this, about 2,000 fans thronged to AEON Bukit Raja, a shopping mall in Klang, to offer their backing to the team.

“Just look at the crowd. Despite criticism in the media, the support is still strong for the team. It’s fabulous that the fans are behind us,” Rajagopal told The Star.

The 56-year-old from Setapak added that he had asked his players to stay focused on their immediate task and not to look too far ahead.

“The first step is to focus on the opening match. Only then can we think about qualifying for the semi-finals,” said the former international.

Also present at the session were national players Safiq Rahim, Safee Sali, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha and Khairul Fahmi Che Mat.

Rajagopal who took his squad to Pulau Pangkor last week for a much needed break, assured the fans that the players are in a better mental state now as a result of the vacation.

“The morale of the team is good after the two-day retreat at Pangkor. We didn’t touch on or discuss football at all.”

Reigning champions Malaysia will play one more practice match against Bangladesh before opening their defence of the regional tournament against long-time rivals Singapore on Sunday.


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