BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Although his charges trounced Singaporean club Geylang International 5-1 in a friendly match on Wednesday, Selangor boss B. Satiananthan is desperate to get pre-season friendly matches against more formidable opponents.
They had been scheduled to play against a Chinese club, a South Korean side and Thailand's Chonburi FC this week in the Meizhou Hakka Cup in China, but the coronavirus outbreak in the country neccessitated the Red Giants' last-minute withdrawal, before the tournament itself was cancelled by the organiser the day before it was scheduled to kick off.
While he was glad to have stayed clear of any infection risks from making the trip, Satiananthan lamented that they still have not played against more formidable opponents, something that he needs before they open their Super League campaign this season. They are scheduled to take on league favourites Pahang, Perak, Terengganu FC and Kedah in their first four league matches.
"We won 5-1 against Geylang but it's not a true indication of the team's strengths. Playing against teams that are beaten by four, five goals serves no purpose except as morale booster. As a coach I would like the team to play against a very strong team so I know what our weaknesses are, something that we could have got in China.
"The last two weeks of preparations is for us to correct our weaknesses, so I'm looking forward to playing against two strong teams. I'm now hoping that the board can get me these matches either in Malaysia, or abroad. If the mountain won't come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain," he remarked to Goal after conducting practice on Thursday.
B. Satiananthan. Photo by Zulhilmi Zainal
Despite reports that they will be participating in the East Java Governor Cup pre-season tournament in Indonesia in February, he told Goal that they still have not decided whether to take part or not.
"I don't know yet," revealed the former Malaysia head coach. "When I asked [the board], they said that we'd only go if the cost is borne by the organiser. There's the fine we have to pay for pulling out of the Chinese tournament, so we're waiting to be invited [for the East Java Governor Cup].
"But then again it's a competition that takes 10 days, something I'm not too keen on because it's too long and we'll be playing in four matches within 10 days. We cannot accept this kind of competition."
And when asked whether their previous pre-season matches have mostly been played behind closed doors due to him wanting to shield his team from their own fans criticism, Satiananthan denied this.
"For me, if they want to allow the fans in, they need to sell tickets and the fans must pay to come in and watch the matches. I have requested for the matches to be opened to the fans, but I was told that we need to inform the FAM (Malaysian FA) earlier to sell tickets. That's why the matches have mostly been played behind closed doors.
"It's not a matter of me being concerned over what the fans would say, they can still find out [about the results] after all. It's good for them to criticise me in friendly games, because these matches are for me to identify and correct weaknesses," said the Malaysian professional football coaches union president.
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