ALL GOLD MEDALS’
Kim Swee says Malaysia have depth and quality to end Thailand’s dominance
AJITPAL SINGH email@example.com guiding Malaysia to their last gold medal success at the 2011 Jakarta Sea Games.
In the last two editions, however, Kim Swee’s boys were unlucky, finishing fourth in 2013 in Myanmar, before failing to make the semi-finals two years ago in Singapore.
Regarded as the ‘Jose Mourinho’ of Southeast Asian football, Kim Swee is not paying too much attention on comments made my rivals to disorientate his camp.
Instead, he has urged his players to focus on playing every game like it was a final.
For the record, Malaysia have failed only once to make the final in the previous editions they hosted with victories in 1977 and 1989, and silver medals in 1971 and 2001.
Their only blemish was in 1965 where they made the semi-finals but finished fourth.
Malaysia have a better record away from home with four titles Sea Games coach Ong Kim Swee seems confident Malaysia can use home advantage to break Thailand’s domination. in 1961 (Yangon), 1979 and 2011 (both in Jakarta), and 2009 (Vientiane).
“The Sea Games is unique as everyone wants to win the football gold medal. We hope, at the end of day, we can make it to the final,” said Kim Swee.
“I do not want to compare my team with the previous Sea Games squads. However, this batch of players offer more depth in all departments, and this is good for the team.
“I can afford to make changes in each game as my options are equally good and can adapt to the football I want them to play.”
Kim Swee also reminded his players to keep their temper in check during matches as it will only weaken the team if they are sent off.
In the 2015 edition, Nazmi Faiz Mansor was sent off for spitting at a Timor Leste player in Malaysia’s opening match in Singapore. He was subsequently sent home by Kim Swee and was later suspended for six matches.
“I hope a similar incident will not occur this time. It will only affect my strategy if my players are suspended.
“I think the current batch is good. We only had two yellow cards in last month’s AFC Under23 Qualifiers and this shows our players are very disciplined in matches,” said Kim Swee.
Malaysia will open their Group A campaign against Brunei at Shah Alam Stadium today, followed by Singapore (Wednesday), Myanmar (Aug 21) and Laos (Aug 23).
Brunei have improved a lot over the years and Kim Swee is not expecting an easy match as the minnows are likely to be defensive throughout the match aiming for a draw.
“It won’t be easy tomorrow. I want my players to focus on their game rather than worrying about what Brunei will try to do in the match,” said Kim Swee, whose players are brimming with confidence after qualifying for the AFC Under-23 Championship last month.
Kim Swee will have the services of six players who played in the 2015 edition, and they will offer the stability the team need in the Sea Games.
They are Kedah’s Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik, Syafiq Ahmad, Ariff Farhan Isa, Penang’s S. Kumaahran, Selangor’s Adam Nor Azlin and Pahang’s Matthew Davies.
In women’s football, Malaysia have improved a lot, but they are not expected to finish on the podium with Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar being the favourites.
In futsal, it will be tough for Malaysia to finish on the podium in the men’s and women’s competitions.
In the men’s event, Malaysia, the World No 65, are ranked behind Thailand (15th), Vietnam (40t) and Indonesia (51st).
The women’s team are behind Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.