BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Selangor head coach B. Satiananthan has come away from the recent international break impressed with the performance of the Malaysia national team.
Although Malaysia only recorded one 1-0 friendly defeat against Jordan, a 3-2 World Cup qualification win over Indonesia and a 2-1 defeat to UAE in the same campaign, the former Malaysia boss was excited over the improvements shown by the Harimau Malaya in the matches.
"I'm very happy [with the way Malaysia played], it reflects well on our league. If you compare how it is now with how it was 10 years ago, when I was at Kelantan, I see a lot of difference. The intensity of the Malaysian game is very high now, the players are fitter and they move the ball faster than before. And these improvements carry over into the national team.
"When you have a quality league, now people are going to say that I like to flatter [six time champions] JDT, but thanks to some teams that have set very high standards, everybody's pushing themselves now. Pahang players shined too in the matches; Azam [Azih}, [Mohamadou] Sumareh, [Matthew] Davies, they were among the key players," remarked Satiananthan when met by Goal before conducting training last Friday.
According to him, the progress shown by the Malaysian league has not only benefited the Harimau Malaya, but also their Causeway rivals Singapore, who have several key players featuring for Malaysian clubs.
The Lions recorded a 2-2 draw against Yemen and a shock 2-1 win against Palestine in their qualification matches. Their goal scorers against Palestine, Safuwan Baharudin and Shakir Hamzah play club football for Pahang and Kedah respectively, while Hariss Harun, who captained the side in both matches, is also JDT's captain.
"Singapore players also benefited [from Malaysian league's improvements], they defeated Palestine.
"Critics may say that the league is not of high quality, but I can tell you that it has grown since the 1990's and 2000's. The standards have gone up from when the league was professionalised," said the 61-year old trainer.
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