Malaysia completed their Group A fixtures of the 2017 KL SEA Games with a perfect record of four wins out of four but compared to the performance shown against Myanmar on Monday, this match against Laos was a much more low-key affair.
Datuk Ong Kim Swee made eight changes to the team and that seemed to take the momentum and continuity away from the team as they allowed Laos to equalise, before finding the winner. However, the head coach was more forgiving on the performance given that the result was achieved, which continued Malaysia's winning run in the competition.
"Somtimes it doesn't look pretty but we got the result. My concern was just three points and not to collect any yellow cards or injuries today. We even managed to give some time off for Irfan [Zakaria] and Adam [Nor Azlin] today."
"They showed good commitment and they want to be in the first XI. We'll see. By Saturday there may be some changes. Amirul performed much better today, Syafiq worked very hard and Jafri got two goals today.
"We made a stupid mistake in front of the penalty box and they scored with a very good free kick. You can't blame anybody for that.
"Before the game, we know we have qualified. I made eight changes to the first XI. Why should we kill ourselves when we have a much more important game on Saturday. Come to semi-final, I need to see who is fresh to play. It might goes to 120 minutes, you'll never know," said Ong in the post-match press conference.
All eyes will be on the remaining Group B fixtures on Thursday where Malaysia's opponent in the semi-final will be decided. Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia are still in the running for two spots from the group where anyone could finish top.
Ong himself knows that win the gold medal, he would have to face against any team - as such doesn't want state his preference for any particular team. Rest assured, him and his coaches will be sent out to the venues for scouting purpose ahead of the Saturday's vital semi-final encounter.
"You can't choose who you want at the moment. If you say you want Thailand, if you reach the final, you still have to play either Vietnam or Indonesia. Whoever we have to play against, we have to be ready. We have to be prepared mentally and tactically."
"We don't want to finish here. We want to finish on 29th with a much better record. It's good that we win four out of four but now we have to prepare for Saturday's game. I'm thinking how to qualify. But to qualify, you need to have a good strategy and I believe that the opponent will be the toughest among the four games that we've gone through," added Ong.
With the 3-1 win over Laos, Malaysia finished top of Group A, three points ahead of fellow semi-finalist, Myanmar.