The national footballer in action against North Korea in Burinam, Thailand. North Korea won 4-1.
National football coach Nelo Vingada decided against playing Johor Darul Ta’zim players during the match against North Korea. File pic by ASYRAF HAMZAH.

BURIRAM: “I am not worried.”

This was what national coach Nelo Vingada said when asked whether he could be sacked for Malaysia’s poor performance this Year following the 4-1 defeat to North Korea in an Asian Cup qualifying Group B match at I-Mobile Stadium on Monday.

Malaysia will end 2017 without a win with a record of six defeats and two draws.

The last time Malaysia failed to win a match was in 2006 under then coach Norizan Bakar.

Vingada made eight changes to his team that also lost 4-1 to North Korea at the same venue on Friday, but it made no difference for Malaysia as they were easily handed their fourth defeat in the qualifiers.

The defeat meant that Malaysia are out of the running for a spot in the 2019 Asian Cup Finals in the United Arab Emirates.

Adam Nor Azlin, Amirul Azhan Aznan, Ahmad Khairil Anuar Zamri and Syafiq Ahmad were handed their first caps yesterday, while national captain Safiq Rahim and other players from Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) were left on the bench.

In the post-match press conference, Vingada explained that his decision to drop JDT players was to protect them following the heavy criticism they received after Friday’s poor result.

"I saw how JDT players were affected by comments on social media. Although, they wanted and were willing to play, I decided otherwise.

"We brought six Under-22 players here and four started. They featured in both matches and showed no fear as they played with good intensity. It augurs well for our future,” said Vingada.

The Portuguese also revealed that he intends to have a ‘bridge team’, to get in players between the ages of 18 and 26 for international matches.

“As a coach, I have never had a poor record with a team. This is my first experience. I want to put 2017 behind me and work towards the 2018 AFF Cup," he said.

The AFF Cup is regarded by concerned parties as a third tier Asian-level tournament and it is surprising that Vingada and the FA of Malaysia (FAM) are now targeting this football competition.

FAM should not be let off so easily for this failure as they had targeted qualification to the 2019 Asian Cup Finals.

Vingada is probably not the right person for the job, and FAM must reassess options and wield in changes in the national coaching set up.

Yesterday, Malaysia showed composure and spirit, but they could not maintain momentum.

Kim Yu Song opened scoring for North Korea in the 15th minute and added a second five minutes later. The striker scored his third in the 44th minute.

Trailing 0-3 at half-time, Vingada brought in Fadhli Shas for Kiko Insa while Safiq replaced Ahmad Khairil as he changed Malaysia’s formation from 4-3-3 to 5-4-1 to tighten his defence after the breather.

North Korea found it tough at the first but they soon managed to score a fourth goal through Pak Kwang Ryong in the 79th minute.

Safawi Rasid, who came in for Wan Zack Haikal Wan Noor, netted a consolation for Malaysia in the 85th minute.

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