KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 — National head coach Kim Pan Gon believes Malaysia deserved to win after edging Taiwan 1-0 in their second Group D match of the 2026 World Cup/2027 Asian Cup Qualifiers in Taipei, tonight.
The South Korean said that Blue Wings managed to put up a tough fight but his Harimau Malaya players were more determined to win the match.
“We were really expecting a tough game, we already knew how solid, disciplined, physical and fighting spirit of Taiwan players but I think our passion was a little bit more than them.
“I’m very proud of all my players that we overcome this very hard hurdle, we are now one step closer to the third round of World Cup Qualifying, I’m very proud and appreciate all the players,” he told a post-match press conference at the Taipei Municipal Stadium, tonight.
He also wanted to correct the perception that bringing on match-winner Darren Lok and Endrick Dos Santos in the second half had changed the game, stating that his players had displayed determination since the first half but were just unlucky and failed to take the lead earlier in the match.
“This win came from all players not individuals, I think our team has passion and (the) desire to go to the next round,” the 54-year-old coach said.
Pan Gon also noted that the ball seemed lighter than usual, the pitch was harder than usual and the fitness of the players had slightly decreased compared to the previous match against Kyrgyzstan at Bukit Jalil National Stadium here last week.
In tonight’s clash, Darren, who was brought in to replace Paulo Josue in the 62nd minute scored the winning goal in the 72nd minute, ending Malaysia’s three-loss streak away at Taipei that began in 2000.
Malaysia is now on top of Group D with six points, while Taiwan is last without a single point, with the match between Oman and Kyrgyzstan taking place at the moment.
The Harimau Malaya squad are scheduled to face Oman away on March 21 next year and host Oman in a return match on March 26, followed by Kyrgyzstan (June 6) away and Taiwan again at Bukit Jalil on June 11 in their quest to qualify for the third round of the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers. — Bernama