Winless Malaysia boss Nelo Vingada wants to stay on for AFF Suzuki Cup
Malaysia head coach Nelo Vingada has vowed to fight on despite his side's demoralising exit from the 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualification campaign, with back-to-back 4-1 defeats to North Korea in neutral Thailand.
The embattled Portuguese boss has failed to win any of his seven games in charge since joining in May, overseeing six defeats and a lucky 1-1 draw at home when Hong Kong missed a late penalty. This leaves the Harimau Malaya bottom of Group B on one point and out of contention for a place at the United Arab Emirates finals, with one game to play.
But Vingada insists he can see a brighter future ahead and intends to focus on developing young players ahead of the AFF Suzuki Cup next year.
"I don't think I have ever gone seven games without winning in my career," Vingada said. "I am the first to face this and fight against this and I will fight.
"Now that the season has finished, the first priority is the AFC U23 championship in January. I believe in giving experience to young players, and I believe the under-23 team will benefit from this championship in China.
"We also have some players who are 23, 24 years old. I hope to bring them to train and play in some friendly games [with the senior team].
"I want to reach many players between 18 and 26. But, of course, I have to work and focus on the senior team because next year we will compete for the Suzuki Cup."
Friday's 4-1 defeat in Buriram prompted Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim (TMJ) to issue a statement accepting responsibility for the result and saying he would meet Technical Director Peter De Roo to discuss the direction of the national team.
Monday's result will certainly make that conversation more interesting after Vingada made eight changes to the starting lineup, with all 10 players from champions Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) kept on the bench.
Vingada seemed to suggest that his team selection was influenced in part by the response to Friday's defeat on social media.
"When you decide it [the team], there are many things to consider," Vingada said. "There are a lot of details, and some of them are in our inner circle.
"But concerning the whole situation that was created after the first game, our players and all people worry too much about what people are writing about us.
"A lot of things that were written on social media but were not exactly reflecting the real situation and what happened in the first game."
Nevertheless, Vingada saw many things to take encouragement from despite another heavy defeat.
"We brought six players from the under-22 team," Vingada said. "Four of them started today's game. All of them played at a rhythm and intensity they have never played in before. They proved and they showed that we have good potential.
"The combinations between these players and the more experienced players can make a team that can play in the future at this level and in better conditions than the last two games."
It remains to be seen if TMJ will share Vingada's optimism and allow him time to oversee the continued development of the team after such a dismal run of results.
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