Football: Pan-gon puts Tigers under ‘positive pressure’ in chilly Taiwan

Football: Pan-gon puts Tigers under ‘positive pressure’ in chilly Taiwan
Football: Pan-gon puts Tigers under ‘positive pressure’ in chilly Taiwan

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia football team coach Kim Pan-gon will not accept anything less than a win against Taiwan in their Group D match of the World Cup 2026-Asian Cup 2027 second-round qualifiers at the Taipei Municipal Stadium tonight (7pm).

“If we can’t beat Taiwan, we don’t deserve to get to the next stage. Taiwan’s home record is strong under their new coach but if we can’t get past this hurdle, we shouldn’t be in the third round of the World Cup qualifiers and be among the top 18 teams in Asia,” said the South Korean .

“This sounds like a lot of pressure on the players, but I see this as positive pressure. And I believe we are more motivated than Taiwan.”

The rankings certainly make the Harimau Malaya the favorites to win the game, being ranked 130th compared to Taiwan, who are only No. 152.

But the more recent history of the two countries’ meetings seem to tell a different story.

Malaysia have only won one of their last three meetings with Taiwan, a 2014 World Cup qualifier at home in 2011 where they prevailed 2-1. They lost the away tie 3-2.

Malaysia were also beaten 2-0 in an international friendly five years ago.

On those stats, Pan-gon said his charges will be ready to ”rewrite the history.”

“That’s all in the past. We now have a new team and a new coach. And this is a new game.

”Today will be a new fight for us to get three points, and we will not step back,” he said.

Pan-gon added that the chilly weather in Taipei, with temperatures dropping to 18ºC, won’t be an issue.

“The weather is chilly, a little different from Malaysia. But it is better than the hot weather.

”Earlier, I was a bit worried about the humidity and rain, but the weather now is just good for the players.”

As for the opponents, Pan-gon said Taiwan, coached by Englishman Gary White, could be a challenge as they are a hard-running side boosted by some naturalized players, most notably Ivorian striker Ange Kouame.

“From the information based on our analysis, the Taiwanese team are very disciplined, work really hard and are solid overall. They are fit and athletic.”

Apart from the targeted win, Pan-gon also wants his side to keep a clean sheet, citing the three goals conceded in their first group match against Kyrgyzstan in the 4-3 win as a wake-up call.

“I wish for a zero game, which is not conceding any goal. Recently we conceded a lot of goals, which is not normal. So I want to have a clean sheet.”

That could well be achievable as Taiwan lost their opening group match 3-0 to Oman away.

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