Pan Gon tells Harimau Malaya: Let's make history [NSTTV]

DOHA: World No. 130 Malaysia start their journey in the Asian Cup tomorrow, aiming to overcome the "nightmare" in 2007 and elevate their status in the continent in Doha.

Harimau Malaya will be inspired when they face world No. 87 Jordan — a team they have never defeated — in their opening Group E match at the Al Janoub Stadium in Doha.

A win against the Chivalrous Ones would boost Malaysia's morale and end their 43-year wait for three points in an Asian Cup game — last achieved in the 1980 edition against the United Arab Emirates (2-0).

In terms of form, high-flying Malaysia look to be the favourites against Jordan, who have won only twice in their last 10 matches.

Coach Kim Pan Gon said his Harimau Malaya side, with 14 naturalised players, are confident of rewriting history.

The South Korean has set a target for Malaysia to reach the second round of the Asian Cup for the first time in four appearances.

"Our team are ready for the first game against Jordan tomorrow. While Malaysia is known for its beauty and friendly people, I want to show that this country has a very good football team," said Pan Gon in the pre-match conference here today.

"The team have been training together for three weeks for this mission. The sessions have helped us overcome obstacles and fix shortcomings.

"We have minor injuries, but we are tactically and technically prepared for the Asian Cup.

"Our target is to reach the last 16 from our group, after that, we will set our sights higher.

Pan Gon added that Malaysia are not afraid of Jordan, citing victories over higher-ranked Asian teams in recent months.

The national team are in a confident mood, having lost only once in their last 11 matches, which include wins over higher-ranked Syria (drew 2-2), China (1-1), India (4-2) and Kyrgyzstan (4-3) in the last few months.

"We have played teams at the same level as Jordan. It will be another historic moment if we beat Jordan," said Pan Gon.

"While South Korea are the strongest team in the group, Jordan and Bahrain have some advantages as the tournament is in the Middle East.

"However, I believe Malaysia will finish in the top two in the group and qualify for the last 16.

World No. 23 Korea will take on No. 86 Bahrain at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in the other group match.

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