‘DON’T BE OVER­CON­FI­DENT’

Kim Swee warns play­ers that home ad­van­tage could work against them

New Straits Times - - Sport - AJIT­PAL SINGH ajit­pals­ingh@nst.com.my

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.

PIC BY OS­MAN AD­NAN

Na­tional youth coach Ong Kim Swee gives in­struc­tions to his play­ers dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion in Bukit Je­lu­tong, Shah Alam yes­ter­day.

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