K. Rajagopal fires back at his critics as Malaysia qualify for the semi-finals of the Suzuki Cup, while Nil Maizar takes the blame for Indonesia's exit and questions his future
Malaysia boss K.Rajagopal fired back at the criticism he has faced in recent weeks as his team secured their place in the last four of the Suzuki Cup with a comprehensive win over heated rivals Indonesia. After the game he rounded of those who have passed judgment on him saying, "It was a learning process for the journalists as you lot were writing negative stuff about the team. Critics are critics. If it's constructive it's good for us. At the end of the day I've no regrets because I'm happy to have done something for Malaysian football."
The embattled manager was happy with the result, and the performance of his troops. "It was a tough match, we started very brightly. The two goals we got were really important as Indonesia kept coming at us throughout the game.”
Rajagopal also felt his instructions and tactics worked well as his team largely contained Malaysia, “I told the boys during the interval that if we can get another goal we can kill the game off. It was too open so I brought in Gary (Steven Robbat) to stabilise the defence. It wasn't an easy win but the important thing is that we won."
The most impressive tactical switch of the match came when Rajagopal asked his two wingers to switch sides, when asked about this he stated: "I started with Wan Zack on the left as we lost Kunanlan to an injury but changed after 25 minutes. The two players (Wan Zack and Azamuddin) showed more consistency after the switch."
Indonesia manager Nil Maizar felt that his team suffered for not taking their chances. "Our team was more attacking than Malaysia and the team had good spirit. But when we had chances to score we didn't so we ended up paying for it. That's football"
He also believed that some of his team perhaps lacked belief following their conceding of two quick fire goals. "After the opponents scored we lost our focus and some of the players looked like they had lost the belief, because we started well and created chances to score"
However Maizar was not keen to blame anyone else for the fact that his team crashed out of the competition that they had aspirations to win, but did question his teams preperations. "I will have take responsibility for the team and I won't blame anyone. I can't say too much now but I think we have to be more prepared next time.” When questioned on his own future he added, “I'll accept whatever the federation's decision is."