“I really wanted to avoid Korea… I guess it’s fate.”

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Manager Kim Pan-gon (56), who led Malaysia to the Asian Cup finals for the first time in 43 years, sighed, saying, “Where are these chances?”

Malaysia (ranked 138th in the FIFA rankings), assigned to pot 4, defeated Korea (ranked 27th), Jordan (ranked 84th) and Bahrain (ranked 85th) in the 2023 Asian Cup draw held at the Katara Opera House in Doha, Qatar on the 11th. Because they are tied to the same Group E.

After Malaysia was the first to be listed in Group E, coach Kim’s complexion changed every time the rest of the pots were filled, revealing his frustration. He talked to a reporter on the 12th immediately after the group draw ceremony and recalled, “In the last pot, if it wasn’t Saudi Arabia, we were going to meet Korea.” Aside from the fact that Korea is my homeland, isn’t it the strongest in Asia?”

Jurgen Klinsmann, coach of the Korean national football team, smiles brightly at the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup group draw event held in Doha, Qatar on the 11th. Doha | AFP Yonhap News

Director Kim’s wish did not come true. It is already the second time for coach Kim to meet Korean soccer as an enemy. He has the pain of leading Hong Kong to the round of 16 at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and losing 0-3 to South Korea. Korea won the gold medal by winning the tournament without conceding a goal. Recalling that time, coach Kim said, “At that time, Hong Kong’s advance to the round of 16 was a big deal, but we met Korea. While acting as a leader in a foreign country, it was his wish not to meet only Korea. But on the other hand, this has happened twice… ” he said.

Although the difference in power is large, it is difficult for Korea to meet Malaysia, which is led by coach Kim. After stepping down from the Korea Football Association’s National Team Power Reinforcement Committee in January last year, coach Kim took the Malaysian baton. As he led the growth of Korean soccer with former coach Paulo Bento, he knows the inside and outside of the situation better than anyone else.스포츠토토

However, in response to the question, ‘Wouldn’t it be possible for Malaysia to poke Korea’s gaps? He knows the level of each player, the process of preparing for the tournament, and the level of support from the association. It is burdensome because a good director (Jurgen Klinsmann) has also come.” He also said, “If Malaysia is the 2nd and 3rd pots, they were greedy for the Korean match. We do not have the ability to win or win, so we just have the courage to show our best football.”

It is a confrontation with a difficult opponent. However, coach Kim emphasized that Malaysia did not give up passing through the Asian Cup group stage. In this tournament, where 24 countries participate, not only the 1st and 2nd places in each group, but also the top 4 teams in the 3rd place can advance to the round of 16. With the exception of Korea, the remaining two teams should be stretched as much as possible.

Coach Kim said, “The confrontation with Korea, who advanced to the round of 16 in the Qatar World Cup, will be considered a good memory for the players, but Jordan and Bahrain are different.” Still, it is true that he is an opponent who can achieve good results if he prepares well.”

What coach Kim believes in is the rapid development of Malaysian soccer players. Malaysia, which was ranked 154th in the FIFA rankings when he first took office, rose a little further to 138th. The gap with rivals must be further narrowed by January next year when the Asian Cup finals will be held. It is evaluated that Malaysia can become an ambush for Group E if it is combined with customized tactics, which is coach Kim’s specialty. Recalling the memory of a 0-0 draw with China, which was ranked several times in the second qualifying round of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where he was the coach of Hong Kong, coach Kim expressed his fighting spirit, saying, “I want to use more miracles in this Asian Cup.”

Director Kim’s words contained a firm will to be recognized for the potential of a Korean leader. Following former Vietnam coach Park Hang-seo, who was affectionately nicknamed ‘Saldink’, the heyday of Korean leaders is still in effect. Coach Kim said, “I will show the ability of a Korean leader on the big stage of the Asian Cup.”

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