PETALING JAYA: China’s national team have not been able to replicate consistent results in football over the years but there is a stark change under coach Aleksandar Jankovic.
And that transformation under the Serbian has not missed the eyes of Malaysia’s coach Kim Pan-gon.
Aware of their great strides, Pan-gon had called for his boys to step up to the plate against China in the Tier 1 international friendly at the Chengdu Phoenix Hill Stadium today.
He believes Malaysia can pull off a win if they play the right tactical game.
“Since the new coach (Jankovic) took over, we can see that Chinese football is improving. Their standard has dropped over the last three to four years but they are looking to bounce back under his tutelage,” said Pan-gon.
Pan-gon knows as he used to take on China regularly during his days as Hong Kong’s coach from 2012 to 2017.
“China are ranked 80th in the world and we respect that. We will humbly approach the game against them with great planning, and we want to show the characteristics of Malaysian football,” he said.
“I’ve studied a lot about China. We know what tactics and strategies they have. We have to adapt well.
“I can assure you this, we will put up a good show for the spectators in this match.”
Pan-gon and his boys are looking confident after holding world No. 90 Syria to a 2-2 draw four days ago.
One of the biggest changes that Pan-gon himself had seen in the team since he took over the national team last year was self-belief.
“When I took over, I realised that the Malaysian team had the fear of facing top nations. I tried to change that mindset,” said Pan-gon.
“I wanted to build the characteristics of Malaysian football. They have to be proactive and dominate every game. We have to be aggressive too because Malaysian fans deserve good football. I worked hard with all the players.
“Against Syria, we showed confidence. The challenge of developing those characteristics was met by all my players.
“If we continue doing this, I am sure we will gain lots of confidence before the World Cup 2026 qualification and Asian Cup next year.”