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 By Paul Murphy

PKNS FC fans must be 'realistic' for 2018 - coach Rajagobal

After a winless 2017, Malaysia's new head coach Tan Cheng Hoe hopes to turn around his side's fortunes.
Jason Dasey and John Wilkinson debate whether or not Malaysia can make a big impression at the U23 Asian Championships.
John Wilkinson and Jason Dasey discuss Luciano Figueroa's comeback for JDT as well as Hariss Harun's return from loan.

New PKNS FC head coach Datuk K. Rajagobal hopes the club's fans will be "realistic" as he gets to grips with the latest challenge of a long career.

The 61-year-old had eight years with PKNS in the 1990s, but with the Red Ants having ended the 2017 MSL season in seventh place, Rajagobal is keen to play down any hopes that his return to the club will result in a sudden improvement.

"The expectations can be quite unreasonable," Rajagobal said, as reported in The Star Online. "The public need to be realistic, even though I'm used to the pressure.

"We definitely want to do better than last season and challenge the others. We have good players but in football, success won't come until we have worked for it."

PKNS have added a number of promising young players to their squad, including 20-year-old Malaysia under-23 striker Jafri Firdaus Chew and 23-year-old striker Faizat Ghazli. 

Singapore international Faris Ramli could also be joining as their ASEAN import after taking part in a trial game at the end of last week.

Rajagobal wants the team's more experienced players to play a role in the development of the younger talent in the squad, and legendary Malaysia striker Safee Sali is one of those who will be expected to help bring on the likes of Jafri and Faizat.

"PKNS have signed young players too and I want the seasoned players to guide them," Rajagobal said.

Rajagobal will also have an important role in developing the youngsters as well as attempting to revive his own career after failing to make an impact in his most recent coaching role at Sarawak FA in 2016. He left after just five months, with the club at the bottom of the Malaysia Super League (MSL).

K. Rajagobal became a national hero when he steered Malaysia to 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup glory.

The former national winger remains best known for his five-year stint as head coach of the Malaysian national team between 2009 and 2013.

He led the Harimau Malaya to their one and only AFF Cup title in 2010, while he was also in charge of the Young Tigers as they won the Southeast Asia (SEA) Games men's football gold medal in 2009.

Following his disappointing spell at Sawarak, at the age of 61, this may be Rajagobal's last opportunity to achieve success with an MSL club.

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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