Malaysian skipper Safiq Rahim said it was a lonely Tuesday night at the Shah Alam Stadium without fans, as Malaysia played out their World Cup Qualifier against UAE behind closed doors.
The drum beats and chants from supporters group Ultras Malaya were absent on the night, with the stadium on silent mode as the 22 players from Malaysia and United Arab Emirates walked out the tunnel for their World Cup qualifier on Tuesday, a match which the visitors won 2-1.
Caretaker coach Ong Kim Swee was yelling instructions at his players throughout the game and it could be heard from the media tribune – a rare occasion during international matches in the country.
The match was played behind closed doors because of crowd violence in Malaysia’s previous home tie against Saudi Arabia on September 8. Ultras Malaya lit smoke bombs, flares and sent missile-like fireworks rocketing all over while another faction attacked the away fans.
“The fans are important … their chants and cheers were missing today,” Safiq said after the match.
“We want and need their presence. Maybe we would have had even more spirit in us today and played even better if they were around. They lift us up.”
Safiq felt satisfied with the performance from the Malaysian team on the night. He kept repeating it was still a loss but admitted their display had given them some confidence.
“I hope the morale can go up after this. We need positive thinking from everyone. The negatives should be left behind as we work to get things back in order,” he said.
“Some of the new introductions to the team were fresh and good. We need to keep this going so we will improve.
“It’s doesn’t matter who is selected in the team. At the end of the day, this is for the country and whoever involved in the set-up must be deserving and contributes whole-heartedly.”
Safiq did not want to get entangled in a debate on whether Football Association of Malaysia should hand Ong a permanent role, saying the players had a duty to play regardless.
Ong took charge on an interim basis after Dollah Salleh resigned following a 10-0 defeat to UAE in Abu Dhabi early September.
The Malaysians travel to Saudi Arabia for their final Group A tie in March. There are no other matches lined-up for the Malaysians till then.
Photo: Football Association of Malaysiacomments