KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s new coach has urged angry fans not to disrupt the national team’s match with Saudi Arabia on Tuesday following their shocking 10-0 defeat to the United Arab Emirates in the World Cup qualifying.
“The fans have the right to show whatever dissatisfaction. But tonight I hope they will get behind the Malaysian team,” Ong Kim Swee, the former Malaysia under-23 boss who has been appointed interim coach, told Agence France-Presse.
At least 600 police are expected to be deployed after supporters’ group Ultras Malaya called on fans to protest at Tuesday’s match, local media reports said.
“For me we can give our views to show our unhappiness toward the team but we should not let out flares. That will not be good for the image of Malaysia. They should not disrupt the match,” he added.
Ong replaced coach Dollah Salleh who stepped down on Saturday, two days after presiding over Malaysia’s thrashing in Abu Dhabi—their worst ever defeat.
Malaysia’s qualifying campaign has been plunged into crisis after they were held 1-1 at home by lowly East Timor and lost 6-0 to Palestine in June.
Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) President Tengku Abdullah Ahmad Shah on Monday said he would gradually step aside.
Ultras Malaya urged fans to gather at the Shah Alam stadium, west of the capital Kuala Lumpur, to voice their anger at the performances of the national team.
One fan, Zulhalmi Nahar, wrote on the Ultras Malaya Facebook page: “Please do what we did when Malaysia played the Philippines last year.”
During that encounter last March, fans set off fireworks, flares and smoke bombs after 30 minutes of the first half in protest against the leadership of FAM.
The incident earned FAM the wrath of the Asian Football Confederation and a fine of $10,000.
Ong said the players were confident to play against the Asian heavyweights. “I hope we can get positive results,” he said.
Three games into the second round, Malaysia are at the bottom of Group A below East Timor with a goal difference of minus 16.