KUALA LUMPUR: Despite guiding Malaysia to the Under-23 Asian Cup in Doha next year, coach E. Elavarasan has failed to win the hearts of some football fans.
And they have called for him to resign from his post over the team's perceived poor performance in the Under-23 Asian Cup qualifiers.
They took umbrage with Elavarasan for Malaysia's 1-0 loss to Thailand which led to them finishing second in their group in the Chonburi Stadium on Tuesday.
However, Elavarasan is unmoved by these hostile fans. He has vowed to carry on with the team in the buildup to the Under-23 Asian Cup.
Though Malaysia beat Bangladesh 2-0 and the Philippines 4-0 in their group matches, it apparently did little to impress the fans.
Fortunately, Malaysia managed to rank as among the four best second-
placed teams in the qualifying rounds after pipping Iran on tie-breaking disciplinary points.
But the fans have spoken negatively against Elavarasan on social media, and they want him to be replaced for the Asian campaign in Doha.
Elavarasan, who is known for turning several unfancied sides in the M-League into title contenders, said the coaching team need time to build a formidable Malaysian side for international tournaments.
Indeed he has had a tough time getting players released from their clubs for national training as the Under-23 Asian competition was not held during Fifa match days.
For the campaign in Chonburi, the Europe-based Luqman Hakim Shamsudin and Nooa Laine could only join Elavarasan's side on Sept 4, giving him little time to work with them.
The lack of preparation time also resulted in Malaysia's fourth placing in the Asean Under-23 Championship last month and failure to get past the group stage of the Sea Games in May. This has led to the fans questioning Elavarasan's competency.
Elavarasan said his men had played to their best to qualify for the Under-23 Asian Cup tournament proper.
"As I had said before, the process of building a strong team takes time," said the 61-year-old coach.
"What's important is that the team won the first two matches (against Bangladesh and Philippines), and I thank the players for a good performance."
Elavarasan, who is also the national team assistant to Kim Pan Gon, said: "I want to personally ask everyone if our players have the quality to play in the Under-23 Asian Cup. If they are good enough, then the coaching team also have the quality to achieve it."