BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
The Malaysian FA (FAM) general secretary Dato' Hamidin Amin has urged the Malayan Tigers fans to be patient with new head coach Tan Cheng Hoe, after his new charges were held to a 2-2 draw by Mongolia in their friendly match on Thursday.
Despite leading twice in the game, the hosts led Mongolia equalised each time, to extend their winless run to 11 games.
Malaysia's Akhyar Rashid celebrating his goal against Mongolia. Photo from FAM
In a Facebook post penned by Hamidin and published on FAM's social media, he wrote that Malaysia's failure to win the match was due to the fact that they were unlucky.
"Based on Malaysia’s world ranking of 178 in comparison to Mongolia's 189th, we should have won the game having led twice but in the end we conceded two easy goals due to individual errors and complacency.
"Seems like luck was not on our side either when Fadhli Shas hit the post with a header and Wan Zack Haikal Wan Noor’s free kick rattling the crossbar in yesterday’s action. If not, we would have ended our winless streak that has lasted for 16 months," he wrote.
He reminded the fans that it was Malaysia's first match under Tan, who had been promoted from his post as assistant head coach, as former head coach Nelo Vingada's replacement.
"Whatever the case, we must be realistic as it was the first match for the Harimau Malaya under the supervision of Tan Cheng Hoe, who only had five days with the players since last Sunday. He is still in the early stages of rebuilding the national squad in preparation for the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup, which will take place beginning 8th November.
"The coaching staff is still looking for the right combinations and strong chemistry within the squad that has been called up. I am confident they can step up and perform beyond expectation in future matches, including our matches against Lebanon on 27th March and Nepal on 1st April," he noted.
Lastly, Hamidin commended the supporters who turned up to the stadium to support the team on Thursday.
"Our fans should also emulate fans from other countries who show their undying support towards their teams during good and bad times, and don't criticise the teams bluntly whenever they lose. If we are not behind the Harimau Malaya, who else will be?
"Lastly, I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation towards the estimated 10,000 supporters who went to the Bukit Jalil National Stadium including the Ultras Malaya, and we hope to see this support continue in our next match against Nepal on 1st April," implored Hamidin.
But it remains to be seen whether the fans can remain patient or hang on to their willingness to attend matches, following the bizarre revelation on Friday that Malaysia squad members who play for Johor Darul Ta'zim, which is owned by FAM president Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, have left the squad ahead of their match against Lebanon, which required Tan to call up last-minute replacement players.