PETALING JAYA, June 10 — National head coach Kim Pan Gon once again opened up about the immense pressure he has been facing in guiding Malaysia since taking charge in January 2022.

As Harimau Malaya prepares for a crucial home match against Taiwan in the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil tomorrow night, the 55-year-old South Korean said the pressure he is currently experiencing was bigger than expected.

The former Korean Football Association (KFA) team director said the pressure was getting intense every day and every time he achieved something with the team.

“The pressure is really more than what I expected because, to me, I believe we, the coaching staff, have given a lot of good things here. We changed the national team philosophy, established characteristics of a national team, and the home game winning rate is much higher than before.

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“We qualified on merit for the Asian Cup for the first time in more than 40 years, and we challenged for World Cup qualification until the last moment. This kind of environment we provided to the country here, but I think, time to time, more pressure and more pressure. I didn’t expect this one.

“On the first day I was here, very good support, everybody was supporting, everything I requested was provided. But, time to time, when I achieve and achieve, I don’t know, it’s negative and negative, this is what I’m feeling,” he told a Malaysia-Taiwan pre-match press conference at Wisma FAM, Kelana Jaya here, today.

Pan Gon added that: “In any situation, we will fight for it. We will never give up or look down, so we never fear. I never fear. We have passion here, I have passion here. If we cannot achieve, then we cannot achieve, but we will keep moving forward.

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He said this when answering questions from South Korean journalists regarding the challenges he faced as a foreign coach here, including having to deal with the high expectations placed on Harimau Malaya.

This is the second time within a six-month period that Pan Gon has made statements regarding the pressure he faced with the national team, the first being during the pre-match press conference ahead of the group stage match against South Korea in the 2023 Asian Cup in Doha, Qatar, in January.

Harimau Malaya aim to clinch a big win against Taiwan in their last Group D match of the 2026 World Cup/ 2027 Asian Cup Qualifiers tomorrow to revive the chance of reaching the third round of the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers and qualifying early for the 2027 Asian Cup.

Malaysia are now third in Group D with seven points — three points behind second-placed Kyrgyzstan, who also have a goal difference advantage going into the final match while Oman top the group with 12 points and qualified for the third round of the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers.

In the final group matches, Malaysia, who have a minus two (-2) goal difference, will entertain Taiwan while Kyrgyzstan, with a +6 goal difference, will travel to Muscat to face Oman.

Should the team fail to advance to the third round of the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers, Malaysia have to compete in the third round of the 2027 Asian Cup Qualifiers for a chance to make their second consecutive appearance in the tournament. — Bernama