KOTA KINABALU, Nov 8 — Sabah FC head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee wants his men to stay focused from start to finish when they take on Hai Phong FC of Vietnam in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup Group H match at the Likas Stadium here at 8pm tomorrow.

This, he said, is to ensure they do not repeat the mistakes that led to them conceding two early goals in the previous match against the same opponent.

He said it was crucial not to become complacent if they want to maintain their rhythm and execute their plans and strategies.


“We do not want to concede early goals like what happened (in the previous match). We learn from it and ensure it doesn’t recur. Make sure we are totally focused right until the final whistle. If we look at our record at the Likas Stadium, we have always managed to get an early goal or score in the first half.

“Even if we were to score one or two goals early on, but become complacent after that, the same thing will happen. We must remain focused so that we finish off whatever chances we create. We want to win tomorrow and automatically qualify for the next round,” he said during the pre-match press conference at the Likas Stadium here today.

In their third Group H match at the Lach Tray Stadium in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 25, Sabah lost 3-2 to Hai Phong after the home team scored two early goals in the 14th and 18th minutes.


Asked about tomorrow’s starting 11, Kim Swee said he is still assessing his players by taking into account their recovery from injuries as well as fatigue among the national players who have just rejoined the team.

“All the players are in good shape but I still need to assess some of them. I still have about 24 hours to evaluate their conditions,” he said.

Commenting on Hai Phong, he said they must not underestimate the threat posed by the Vietnamese team, especially their import players and the fact that they managed to bounce back from losing to Hougang United to beat his men last month.

Meanwhile, Hai Phong head coach Chu Dinh Nghiem said the team have identified several Sabah players who can be a threat to them, including the likes of national striker Darren Lok, South Korean defensive midfielder Park Tae-su and Spanish forward Miguel Cifuentes.

“Not easy to play against Sabah at (their) home and we have players who are injured, including our goalkeeper, wingers and some other players. Sabah have good players and we want to play well (and) at least can get one point tomorrow,” he said.

Dinh Nghiem said although getting early goals will always be an advantage, he wants his men to play well for the entirety of the match and execute their game plan flawlessly. — Bernama