Outplayed and outclassed, Malaysia didn't stood a chance against North Korea in the first of two matches played at I-Mobile Stadium in Buriram on Friday night. The 4-1 reverse suffered by the Malayan Tigers was a damning indictment of the difference of quality between the two sides.
Eduardo 'Nelo' Vingada made eight changes to the team that started in the previous defeat away to Hong Kong but that did little to change the complexion of the match as North Korea proved to be the far superior side of the two.
Jorn Andersen's boys dictated play right from the start and their pressing forced plenty of schoolboy errors from the Malaysian side, who struggled to get a foothold in the game. The Koreans were clinical in their finishing and Vingada was quick to point that out after the match.
"When a team lost 4-1, we can't complain. The result we conceded three goals through set piece. They are very tall and more physically competitive. To be honest, even though they deserved to win, the result was very heavy."
"If you remember what happened in the game, our goal keeper didn't make any difficult saves. Usually when one team score four goals, it means they missed a lot of chances but not this time. Of course I'm very disappointed for the result.
"If you ask me concerning the performance and the attitude of the players, I was more disappointed in Hong Kong. You have to recognise that North Korea is another level to Hong Kong. North Korea as a team, they work together all week as club and in the weekend, they returned to their club to play. They have been together for two years, so they are very strong," said Vingada.
While Hafizul Hakim kept his place in the starting XI, it was a completely different defence that played in front of him. Fazly Mazlan, Fadhli Shas, Francisco 'Kiko' Insa and S. Kunanlan started in defence and they were put under pressure right from kick-off.
North Korean targeted the wide areas, with the right side of Malaysia's defence being torn to shreds with some good switching of plays from the Koreans. Kunanlan was given a testing time dealing with Jong Il Gwan with Azrif Nasrulhaq not providing adequate support to his club team mate.
Despite having the additional man in midfield with Malaysia playing a trio in the middle compared to Korea's two, Malaysia were the ones that looked like being outnumbered. Possession was quickly relinquished to the opponent, especially in Malaysia's own middle third of the pitch and Korea's swift transition to attacking positions caused plenty of trouble.
"We have to feel the responsibility of the result as a team, not individual. Some players didn't perform so well as I was expecting. Some players maybe could perform better than what they did. Kunanlan and Fazly generally made a good game. Yes, they made one or two mistakes."
"I feel pressure everywhere. Pressure is part of my job. Even if the results have not been good, I feel the team can compete. The difference is not as big as some of the results showed. Maybe we should have one or two more points. But I have to be positive and I'm not giving up.
"I don't feel that in these five months, we are not lower than where we are before. But I know this is not enough. This team needs time, the team has potential. To be realistic, we are now no chance to qualify. The young players are growing up and they need time. I believe that we have team that after few months, can be better than now," added Vingada.
There were more than a handful Malaysian supporters present at the stadium for the match and their ire at the performance was brought to the forefront with a barrage of abuse directed to the players as they boarded the team bus after the match.
Vingada may personally feel that the team has progressed compared to the time when he took over the job but results have indicated otherwise. Unless the experienced Portuguese find something in the next few days, the pressure on him will certainly heaped on more if Malaysia suffer the same fate in Monday's second encounter against North Korea.