Under pressure Datuk K. Rajagopal was left frustrated after his team failed to pick up the morale boosting win.
“It’s a disappointing result, we should have continued with the same intensity and tempo after Safee scored.” Rajagopal also had some ominous words for underperforming members of his team, “Some of the players were disappointing, it’s good that I saw it now. I won’t single any players out now but I’ll be very direct with them in the dressing room. The players have to realise they need to work harder”
The manager was left to rue late errors which cost his team the victory, firstly an opportunity to seal the game which was wasted by substitute Kyrhill Zambri, then Aidil Zafuan’s late blunder which gifted Hong Kong an equaliser. “If Khyril had scored the outcome would have been different. Mistakes always happen but we have to keep correcting the players. It is a good that it happened in a friendly, which means we have time to fix the mistakes before the tournament.”
Rajagopal also praised the visitors for their performance, “Hong Kong played more aggressive in the second half. Anything can happen in a match and Hong Kong played better than in Kowloon last month.”
While admitting that his players lack confidence, Rajagopal was defiant in his belief that his charges would perform once the Suzuki Cup begins. “The players need self confidence…after this no more excuses, we should be ready for the AFF Suzuki Cup. Against Singapore, I’m confident the players will rise to the occasion as it’s a local derby.”
Hong Kong boss Kim Pan Gon was happy with the result, although he was less complimentary towards the performance of the match officials. On Lee Chi Ho’s red card he commented, “Overall, the referee was fair but there were four referees. At least one of them should have spotted the elbow from Safee before my player retaliated.”
The new manager was also happy with his team’s performance, “Malaysia played well in the first half but we applied more pressure on them in the second and because of our fighting spirit we got a goal. We could have scored another and won the game but the forwards failed to add to the tally.”
Despite the recent poor form of his opponents, Kim backed the team to retain the Suzuki Cup next month, “I respect Rajagobal and I think Malaysia will keep the AFFSC.”