Vingada: I won't waste time worrying about the Malaysian media

Nelo Vingada has had a baptism of fire in Malaysian football since becoming head coach of the national team in May, but as he told FourFourTwo, outside criticism doesn't bother him one bit...

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The Portuguese lost his first game in charge of Malaysia, a vital 2019 Asian Cup qualifier against Lebanon on June 13, in the last minute and the criticism from sections of the media was fierce. 

If the 64-year-old thought life in Southeast Asia was going to be easy, he does so no longer. But to him, the shower of criticism is not an issue. 

I am not worried about pressure from the media. The pressure I put on myself is the most important

“I don’t waste my time with things like that,” Vingada told FourFourTwo. “The pressure is always the same wherever you go. I have been with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Korea and in some very big jobs. I am used to it.”

Vingada has coached all over the world in a career that stretches way back to the 1980s and there are few things in the game he has not experienced or seen.

“I am not worried about pressure from the media. The pressure I put on myself is the most important. Nobody is more critical of me than myself.” 

That was true after that late Lebanon loss. Malaysia, playing a first game in Asian Cup qualification, had been leading with just over 10 minutes left in Johor but ended up with nothing after a injury-time goal gave the visitors a 2-1 victory. 

“Nobody is more sad than me, the players and the president. I know that the fans are sad too because nobody likes to lose.

TMJ and Vingada are on the same page

“When it comes to the media, I can’t be worrying about them, but I don’t think their reaction will be a problem. I respect the media’s opinions but my time is focused on the players.”

Vingada is also enjoying returning to a country that he had already warmed to on previous visits, both personal and professional.

KL is a great city and the people are kind. I came back two times on vacation and am really happy to be here

”My first visit was in 1997 when I was with the Saudi Arabia national team during qualification for the 1998 World Cup.”

That game at Shah Alam Stadium ended in a goalless draw as Saudi Arabia topped the group ahead of second-placed Malaysia to progress to the final round and, ultimately, all the way to France.

“At that time I appreciated the country, KL is a great city and the people are kind, and I came back two times on vacation and am really happy to be here.

“If the offer comes, then you look at the organisation, the financial conditions, the future expectations, the challenge and then, I was open (to the idea).”

That offer did come, after talks with Football Association of Malaysia president Tunku Ismail Sultan, when the coach also presented his vision for the country. 

The Tigers fell short against Lebanon

He is ready to tackle one of the biggest challenges in Asian football: restoring Malaysian football to its former heights.

“The situation in Malaysia does not reflect the real value of football here,” he said. “Our FIFA ranking is low but I believe that with some new motivation, new perspective and new experience then the future can be good.”

That future involves finding the right style of play, the right system and the right players.

Vingada wants to play attacking football and an attractive style. Ultimately, however, how Malaysia play will depend on what is available.

“I have my ideas but I will balance it. Some coaches have a system and try to bring the players to fit that. I prefer playing the way that fits the players best.”

Nevertheless, there are some basic requirements.

“I want a team that is compact, well-organised and players that are confident to play anywhere, home and away at the same level, players that enjoy to play,” he said.

“Players must bring pride to play for the national team. We have to recover the pride.”