‘DON’T BE OVERCONFIDENT’
Kim Swee warns players that home advantage could work against them
CONVENTIONAL wisdom has it that in sports, the home team will always hold advantage over others. But being the home team also means greater expectations.
And Malaysia will feel this extraordinary pressure when they start their Sea Games football competition at Shah Alam Stadium next week.
There are concerns for Malaysia as the previous two hosts (2013 Myanmar and 2015 Singapore) failed to make the semifinals. Thailand are the last home team to win the gold medal, achieved at the 2007 edition.
Understandably, national youth coach Ong Kim Swee does not want his team to be overconfident in the Sea Games.
Kim Swee’s side will open their Group A campaign against Brunei on Monday, followed by regional rivals Singapore (Aug 16), Myanmar (Aug 21) and Laos (Aug 23).
“We cannot get overconfident. I have reminded the players not to take any team lightly, not even Brunei and Laos, as both have improved over the years,” said Kim Swee yesterday.
“We are entering the competition with high expectations as we had recently qualified for the AFC Under-23 Championship. If we do not make the Sea Games semi-finals, it will show that we do not have the consistency.
“The most important thing is that the players need to take things seriously and follow instructions in every match.”
Eight players will be dropped when Kim Swee names his 20-member squad for the Sea Games on Saturday.
“This team have quality. The Sea Games schedule is less taxing compared to the previous editions. Match fitness will be key as my players will play a total of six matches if we reach the final.
“The goal is to have options in my squad. I have some players under tailormade programmes to regain fitness and also overcome tiredness,” said Kim Swee.
Strikers S. Kumaahran and N. Thanabalan have picked up injuries. Kumaahran has a hamstring problem, while N. Thanabalan is down with a knee injury.
“We are monitoring Kumaahran’s condition and we will look at him again on Friday. Thanabalan complained of knee soreness today and we will assess him,” Kim Swee added.
The coach received good news yesterday as Kedah’s Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik and Ariff Farhan Isa along with Perak’s Ahmad Khairil Anuar Zamri and Penang’s Syamer Kutty Abba all joined training yesterday in Bukit Jelutong after recovering from minor injuries.
National youth coach Ong Kim Swee gives instructions to his players during a training session in Bukit Jelutong, Shah Alam yesterday.