Coach Garrido champions mental toughness for Under-23 Asian Cup mission

KUALA LUMPUR: National Under-23 coach Juan Torres Garrido firmly believes that if his players can't stand the heat, they shouldn't be professional footballers.

Garrido and his players left for Doha today for the Under-23 Asian Cup, a qualifier for the Paris Olympics in July.

The top three teams in Doha will earn automatic Olympic berths, while the fourth-placed team will be involved in the intercontinental playoff.

"Protecting the team and the players is essential, but any professional footballer should know that facing criticism is part of the business. We should just focus on doing our job and giving our best.

"Players and coaches must analyse everything because we want the best for the country and the fans.

"Of course, the coaches will protect the players. However, it is also something the players must handle on their own. If you can't do so, then you can't be a professional footballer," said Garrido

Garrido will be without key players Azam Azmi Murad, V. Ruventhiran, Rahadiazli Rahalim and Richard Chin during the Under-23 Asian Cup due to various reasons.

"We have 23 players, including three goalkeepers, for this mission.

"Azam sustained an injury during the World Cup qualifier between Harimau Malaya and Oman last week. He is an important player, but I hope the others can fill in the void.

The team, also known as the Young Tigers, will play friendlies against China and Qatar in Doha before they kick off their Under-23 Asian Cup Group D campaign against Uzbekistan on April 17.

Their other matches are against Vietnam on April 20 and Kuwait three days later.

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