Any team that aspires to be among the top in Asia must be willing to work hard and have the right attitude - that is the advice from Lim Kim Chon, who was part of the Asian Football Confederation’s Technical Study Group (TSG) during the recent Asian Cup in Doha, Qatar.
Japan emerged Champions of the 15th edition of Asian Cup after defeating Australia 1-0 in the final on Jan 29.
Kim Chon, 56, FAM Youth Technical Director, was among the five top Asian coaches selected to be part of the TSG to do technical study during the tournament. The others were Kwok Ka Ming (Hong Kong), Ahmad Omar (Qatar), Morteza Mohases (I R Iran) and Badar Jalil (Kuwait).
“For Malaysia to reach the top level in Asia, the players must be willing to work hard and with the right attitude under pressure. The teams in the Asian Cup displayed a strong commitment to work hard in training and during matches,” said Kim Chon, who has been AFC Coaching Instructor since 1995 and FIFA Coaching Instructor since 1999.
The teams in the Asian Cup displayed some interesting strengths which Malaysia and other emerging teams can learn and adopt.
“We saw that the stronger teams were in good physical condition lasting more than 120 minutes. Players must be trained in the power-endurance capacity which means high tempo with faster recovery. Normal physical routine is not enough for a competition at this level,” added Kim Chon , who was AFC Technical Director from 2001 to 2004.
According to Kim Chon, teams like Jordan, Syria and Iraq are “hard-running” teams and any team that wants to beat them must in the best physical condition and also tactically sound.
“We are not talking about 95 minutes anymore. Teams that advanced to the knock-out stage were prepared for the 120 minutes encounter (Korea Rep, Japan, Australia).”
The second factor which Kim Chon believes should be given importance is player‘s individual intelligence to make quick decision and to be comfortable with the ball even though being pressured or surrounded by two or more opponents.
“Players must learn to be flexible and adapt to tactical changes during the match. For example, a team playing a 4-4-2, the players must be receptive to the situation when a team mate a defender is down injured and receiving treatment. Within this crucial few minutes the players themselves must analyse and reorganise their playing position, otherwise opponents will take advantage.
“This involves tactical flexibility of the player individually and as a group. Teams that play with tactical intelligence are able to be on the offensive and defensive remaining compact at all times. They must know when to attack and when to draw back otherwise your team would be under pressure,” said Kim Chon.
Another factor which Kim Chon believes is important is allowing younger players more playing opportunity and exposure at international level.
“Australia performed better after a few younger players were gradually introduced into the first 11 and they eventually became the runner up.” China though they failed to make it, the team’s average age is 21 years. (3 were regulars and 5 substitutes who had some playing time, they are U21)
Korea Rep had a mixed of youth and experienced and most of their players are European bound.
To gain exposure, Kim Chon believes Malaysia should send teams to play in junior tournaments in Japan and South Korea and Europe. “Even coaches should be exposed by way of attachment to clubs.”
“To reach a high standard, Professional ethic of coaches, players, officials must be embedded from day one with the willingness to work hard and have a change of attitude. The speed of the game is changing and teams and players must be willing to change, if they want to achieve good results at continental stage,” added Kim Chon.
“I am confident, Malaysia also can make it as among the top in Asia and we have to start working hard, from now starting with the young ones.”
The TSG has submitted their detailed study to AFC.