Getting Malaysia to Asian Cup will be biggest honour for Pan Gon

PETALING JAYA – For national head coach Kim Pan Gon (picture), managing to guide Malaysia to the Asian Cup will be the biggest honour in his coaching career.

However, Pan Gon said if he could successfully lead the national team to the prestigious Asian football tournament, it was not because of him alone but all parties who worked hard in developing football in the country.

“I have made quite good achievements for myself but if we qualify for the Asian Cup, it should be a great honour to me but that’s not because of what I did but all of the football fraternity that have worked together.

“So, if we achieve (the target to get to the Asian Cup), I think it’s an honour for Malaysian football as well,” he said during a pre-match press conference ahead of the 2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers Group E match between Malaysia and Bangladesh, here, today.

The 53-year-old South Korean coach admitted that Malaysia has the best squad at the moment and that he has high respect for the professionalism and ability of the Harimau Malaya squad players.

“I believe they (players) deserve to be (in the Asian Cup) and now that we are almost at the end of the qualifying campaign, I hope they can do something good to give to the Malaysian football fans and make Malaysia’s name great,” he said.

Malaysia will lock horns with Bangladesh in the final group match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil tomorrow night, with the home team aiming for three points to brighten up their chances of qualifying for the Asian Cup.

Ahead of the clash, Pan Gon said that overall, Bangladesh were a strong team and capable of presenting interesting games, as well as creating dangerous scoring opportunities.

He said his team respected the ability of the ‘Bengal Tigers’ but would approach the match with high spirits and confidence in the hunt for victory.

“We know how important this game is; everybody knows that there is no such thing as an easy game or disrespecting other teams,” he said while stressing that his side prioritised three points over the number of goals scored.

After two matches, Bahrain lead Group E with six points while Malaysia and Turkmenistan are in second and third place respectively with three points, while Bangladesh are at the bottom without any points. Only the group winners and the five best runners-up across all groups will qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup.

Based on the ranking of the top five runners-up after two matches, Malaysia are in the last position while Thailand, Kyrgyzstan and India are in the top position with six points each and the Philippines (four points) are in fourth place. – Bernama