M'sian U-21 coach not obsessed with results
They started training for the Nations Cup five days before the Singapore team, and have a 27-man squad to choose from - the largest among the four sides here for the Nations Cup Under-21 quadrangular.
Hosts Malaysia will go up against Singapore in a tasty Causeway Derby and coach Frank Bernhardt says his boys will be using the tournament as a warm-up for next year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur, rather than being obsessed with results.
"I think that expectations are really high, and it should be like that, but the point is that we're not in the SEA Games or AFC qualification at the moment," said the Malaysian Under-21 coach, during a press conference at the Hatten Hotel yesterday.
"It is good to have high expectations for the main tournament next year but, at the moment, people should also know that we are still in preparation for that.
"So for me, it's more about the preparation than going for the win."
While Bernhardt (above) is keen to take the pressure off his players, he stressed that they must perform in their clash with Singapore at the Hang Jebat Stadium tonight.
"I hope that we have a lot of spectators. Our team are representing the country, not only Kuala Lumpur, but also other cities," he said.
"This is a chance to show the quality that we have."
A POSITIVE RESULT
Under Bernhardt, the Malaysian juniors defeated a Philippine U-21 side and drew with the Nepal senior team in March, and captain Faris Shah Rosli wants another positive result against Singapore.
"The fans definitely want the best from us, so we are going to try our best to win, especially since we're playing at home," the 21-year-old defender said.
"The players have been listening to what the coach has been saying, and they have been positive towards what he wants tactically and communication-wise."
Bernhardt, who will try out different players throughout the tournament, warned his boys to stay disciplined against their rivals from across the Causeway.
"I don't know if it will be so emotional, but we just have to bring our style to the field and not react to the opponents," he said.
"They have to concentrate on the game. If we bring our game, I'm really positive that we can clear everything in the 90 minutes."
The German complained that he found it tough to obtain match footage of their opponents, taking a swipe at the Singapore set-up.
"It was quite difficult for us to get some DVDs on their Iran matches (in March). It came to me that they don't want to send it to us, so this is totally stupid," he said.
"I've worked in Europe with national teams and it is totally usual for us to exchange videos, because we know we don't win the game based on that."
Faris said: "We don't know how Singapore will turn out tactically, because the last time we met was in a different age group.
"It is always special to play against Singapore, so we cannot take it lightly. I've already reminded the players to give 100 per cent."