Malaysia succumbed to a narrow defeat at the hands of the host and now stares at the real possibility of missing out on a semi-final spot.
The Malaysia Under-23 head coach Ong Kim Swee couldn’t hide his disappointment and embarassment after his side lost 1-0 to Philippines U23 in a Group A match of the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games on Friday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Despite being able to field his best starting eleven against the Azkals, the Young Tigers never got going in the match and rarely put the Philippines keeper under any immense pressure throughout the match. Stephan Shrock’s winner direct from a corner kick proved to be the difference and it leaves Malaysia with plenty to do in the remaining matches.
In the post-match press conference, Kim Swee did not mince his words and claimed this result to be a shameful one for his players. Malaysia were expected to easily make it out of the group but now find themselves still searching for their first win after two matches played.
“It’s definitely not a good result for us. We conceded again through a set piece. It showed that Philippines were more hungry than us. We should be ashamed of the result but mathematically we are still in the running to get out of the group.
“We didn’t play well but in the second half we were controlling the game. The goal changed the game and overall you can say that they deserved the win. At the end of the day, we didn’t convert the chances that we had and that made all the difference.
“Most of the players have been playing together and I know that they can play better football. I can’t say that it’s totally about the pitch because everyone play on the same pitch. It’s about how fast we can adapt to the situation. We have to buck up if we want to reach the next stage,” said Kim Swee.
While the result favour Philippines, the home did not really threatened Malaysia’s goal much. And the difference turned out to be a defensive mistake from Haziq Nadzli while Malaysia struggled to create anything of note up front with the likes of Hadi Fayyadh, Akhyar Rashid and Danial Amier all misfiring.
Myanmar now sits top of the group with seven points after three matches played with Cambodia in second place with four points but have played one match less. Philippines are third on four points but have also played three matches while Malaysia sit in fourth place with only a solitary point.
Two more matches remained for Kim Swee’s side with Timor Leste being the first opponent on December 2 before wrapping up the group stage against Cambodia on December 4. As it stands, Myanmar looks a firm bet to achieve one of the top two spots reserved for qualification to the knockout stage with Malaysia involved in a 3-way fight for the other spot.
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