NOTHING WRONG WITH ‘OLD’ PLAYERS
National coach Vingada defends his decision
COACH Eduardo Vingada has defended his decision to select “old” players for the national football team. The newly appointed national coach from Portugal pointed out that old players are still being selected in Europe.
Vingada, 64, was commenting on the issue of “old players” in the national team as a third of the 26 players were in their 30s.
“If you look at most of the teams in Europe especially in Italy and England, you can see players aged, 34, 35 or 36 playing,” he said after his first training session with the national team in Padang Seri Gelam, Johor Baru, on Monday.
National captain Amri Yahyah, at 36, is the oldest player in the training squad, followed by Safee Sali (33), Shahrom Abdul Kalam and Azamuddin Akil (both 32), Amirulhadi Zainal and S. Kunanlan (both 31), S. Chanturu, Safiq Rahim and Aidil Zafuan Radzak (all 30).
The coach did not directly an- swer a question on whether he will field the recalled four players (who quit the national team last year) for the Asian Cup qualifier against Lebanon at Stadium Larkin on June 13. The four are Safiq Rahim, Amirulhadi Zainal, Aidil Zafuan Radzak and S. Kunanlan.
“This matter I don’t know. This happened before, so I did not get any information about that.
“But as I told you, to play in a national team is about pride. If I tell you, ‘come play in the national team’ and if you don’t feel pride to play, then bye bye,” he said.
Vingada added that he also made a request for two players from the national under-22 team as he preferred to invest in younger players as well.
He said the challenge is selecting the right balance of experienced and newer players from the 26-member team to meet Lebanon.
“Even if it’s a short time to find the best combination for the upcoming game against Lebanon, I know it is important. I used to say that the next game is always the most important and the most difficult.
“But I know it is a special game as there is a new coach, new era, new perspective, new optimism, new vision and new challenge. It is an adventure for me and the players,” he said at the end of the almost two-hour training session.
Vingada admitted that he did feel some pressure in his maiden outing as the national team’s coach, but he was familiar with such a situation.
“Some people may say that I am pressured as the entire country is on me. No. The whole country is with us and supporting us. This is positive pressure.”
He said that he was on board with Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim’s vision in bringing the best out of the national team.
“I am here to do my job. Tunku wants change and he wants to bring a new vision and idea.”
Amri Yahyah said that he and his teammates were committed to the training session.
“The coach wants us to be united so that there is no gap between the players and coach. So we are together to form this team,” he said.
“My players have been given specific instructions. They need to pay attention to Ceres’ counter-attacks. The key is that my strikers must convert chances. I expect a great match tomorrow,” said Mora.
Ceres’ Serbian coach Risto Vidakovic said a win today will be a huge result for Filipino football.
“This match is a huge challenge. We are not doing anything special. We will play our normal game and hopefully, the result will be in our favour,” said Vidakovic.
Nelo Vingada (centre) at a training session with the national players yesterday.