DOLLAH Salleh is excited to lead Malaysia for the first time in an international friendly but he lamented that his job as the coach is tougher than when he was as a national player.
The 23-member squad, along with Dollah and his coaching staff, left for Dushanbe yesterday for Friday’s friendly against Tajikistan.
The 51-year-old was once one of the most feared strikers in Asia before he quit in 1998. Dollah played for the country 97 times between 1985 and 1996 and netted 48 goals.
The former Police coach is best remembered for being the last Malaysian to score against South Korea’s first team. He scored from 25 metres in the 1-0 win over Korea in the World Cup Qualifiers in 2005 in Kuala Lumpur.
Dollah is also a successful coach, having led the now-defunct MBPJ, Selangor and Pahang to several titles in the M-League.
“It is tough being a coach as I need to plan and also monitor my players’ condition before matches. You need to study them from head to toes,” said Dollah at Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya yesterday.
“As a player, you do not have to worry about anything except for giving your best for the country. I will always cherish the moments of representing the country as a player.
“However, I am also eager to make my debut as the national coach. I feel like I am earning my first cap.”
Dollah, who started his playing career with Johor, admitted that he knows little about Tajikistan.
“Frankly, I only ‘google’ about them (on Sunday) and based on the information I have, they look really prepared.
“I am actually slightly worried. I do not want my team to look like whipping boys. I will make sure we get a good result,” he said.
For the record, it will be the first meeting between World No 124 Tajikistan and 157th-ranked Malaysia. Tajikistan have not won an international match this year while Malaysia are unbeaten in three matches.
Dollah admitted that he would have preferred more time with his trainees before the match. “But I have many players with international experience and they have been responding well in training.
“Of course, three days of training is not enough to prepare a team for a match. I have been testing options during training.
“As for now, everyone is worthy of a spot in the first team. I will decide the line-up after two days of practice in Dushanbe,” Dollah added.