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 By Paul Murphy

Vingada defends record as Malaysia ring changes for Asian qualifier

Malaysia's under-fire head coach Nelo Vingada is set to ring the changes for Monday's 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifier against North Korea after Friday's 4-1 defeat to the same opponents.

Vingada insisted his players had given their best and that the scoreline had flattered the North Koreans in the first game of a double header in neutral Thailand.

But he is ready to give other players a chance in the second match as the Harimau Malaya seek to restore some pride, with qualification almost beyond them. Captain Safiq Rahim is a certainly to return after missing the embarrassing loss due to suspension.

To make it to the tournament in United Arab Emirates in Jan. 2019, Malaysia now need to beat North Korea on Monday, while hoping that group leaders Lebanon beat Hong Kong on Tuesday. Then on the final match day next year, Malaysia would have to beat Lebanon, while Hong Kong and North Korea would have to draw.

It is an implausible sequence of results, especially given the ease with which the Koreans dismissed the Malaysian challenge on Friday. Winless Vingada has suffered defeat in five of six matches since being handpicked by FAM boss TMJ in May.

"Maybe we will bring in some new blood because we are at the end of the [domestic] season," Vingada said.

"We have less than 72 hours to prepare for the next game. We have to recover and to try and organise the team, possibly with some different players.

"And, of course, any game in which you are representing your country, you have to feel the pride and give your best. Any player that cannot accept this challenge cannot play."

Despite the nature of Friday's defeat, Portugal's Vingada insisted it was an improvement on the previous outing when they lost 2-0 in Hong Kong.

"Concerning the performance and the attitude of the whole team [against North Korea], in Hong Kong, I was much more disappointed," Vingada said.

"What I can see now, even though results are not positive, I feel our team can compete. I don't feel such a big difference between us and the other teams. I think we deserve maybe one or two more points."

There was an angry reaction from some Malaysia fans who had travelled to Buriram for the match, but Vingada preferred to focus on the future of his side.

"Realistically, we are out of the [Asian Cup] qualification," Vingada said "Next year, maybe, without the pressure, we can prepare the team and give more time next year to the other tournaments, like the AFF [Suzuki] Cup.

"I have a contract for two years. The federation gave me two years to give me time to work."

Worryingly for Malaysia, North Korea head coach Jorn Andersen believes Friday's win -- their first in Group B -- gives his team more belief going into Monday's game.

"I think this game gives us some confidence," Andersen said "It was our first victory in a long time.

"Normally DPR Korea has a strong team and recent results have not been so good so it was very important for us to get the victory to show the people that we have a good team and can win matches like that."

Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK

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