Zaquan Salutes Players Who Played Well Against Lebanon

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SEPANG - Mohd Zaquan Adha Abdul Radzak, who was given the responsibility of captaining the national team against Lebanon on Tuesday, saluted his team-mates who performed excellently, despite losing 2-1 to a team ranked 87th in the world.

The 30-year-old player said he respected the spirit of teamwork and the positive character shown by the players of the Harimau Malaya squad which occupied the 178th position, after only two days of training.

"We went down to the pitch with a desire to win ... Even before the start of the game, we had said nothing was impossible and we had instilled (in ourselves) a desire to win, but luck did not favour us.

"We will continue to perform in the same way when we play against Bhutan on Sunday. We cannot feel comfortable after the action against Lebanon but have to improve on the weaknesses for the subsequent matches," he told reporters at the KL International Airport (KLIA), after arriving from Beirut, Lebanon.

In the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers at Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium in Beirut, Lebanon took the lead through Hassan Maatouk who scored via a penalty kick in the 19th minute after Malaysian defender Matthew Davies fouled him in the penalty area.

Substitute Muhammad Syafiq Ahmad equalised for Malaysia in the 72nd minute, but the home side managed to overcome the Harimau Malaya squad in the final minutes of injury time through Hilal El-Helwe.

Mohd Zaquan, was one of the nine players called by head coach Tan Cheng Hoe, after taking the decision to release captain Safiq Rahim and 13 players from the Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) team following a 2-2 draw against 189th ranked Mongolia at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, last Thursday.

Meanwhile, Cheng Hoe said the existing players would be retained for action against the world's 188th team, Bhutan at the National Stadium on Sunday, as the coaching line-up was satisfied with their performances.

"Most of the players, who are with the national team and playing in a major match for the first time, deserve praise. It's not easy, but they reciprocated with a good performance. We hope the players can keep a consistent performance throughout the year.

"Although the results are less positive, we see positive changes in terms of the pattern of play that can dominate the game and some of the attacks that we made almost bore fruit. Had we taken the opportunity (well), we could have drawn or won," he said.

He also reminded Harimau Malaya's squad players not to underestimate the ability of the Bhutan team, in the quest for a win after 12 matches without a win.

The last time the national team recorded a win was when defeating Cambodia 3-2 during the 2016 AFF Cup campaign, in November of that year.

-- BERNAMA