Reactions: Laos 1-4 Malaysia

K. Rajagopal was satisfied with the victory but believed that his side can still further improve while Kokichi Kimura was visibly gracious in defeat
Despite a rather comfortable 4-1 victory over a dejected Laos side, Malaysia coach Datuk K. Rajagopal believes that his side could have done a lot better than they did today.

"I wanted the boys to play with aggression and we started very positively with lots of pressing," he said to reporters in a press conference after the match.

"We should have scored four to five goals in the first half and killed the game off in the first 45 minutes itself. As a coach you do get frustrated when your players give the ball away cheaply so it's important to get it right in the next games."

A core aspect of Malaysia's domination in midfield was certainly Shakir Shaari, who impressed with his all-around contributions. The Kelantan ace's combination with Safiq Rahim was too hot for the Laotians to handle and the Malaysian gaffer acknowledged his contributions.

"I would like to give Shakir Shaari a special mention as he was great for us today. His distribution was good and he has been playing well for Kelantan as well. He'll probably keep his place in the team for the next match."

After his blunder against Singapore in the weekend, Khairul Fahmi was dropped in favour of Farizal Marlias and Rajagopal went on to explain the decision to do so.

"To be honest both the goalkeepers can perform but I need to keep them on their toes and it's healthy competition for the two anyway. That's why I made the decision to start with Farizal."

Meanwhile, Kokichi Kimura accepted defeat graciously, admitting that his charges were not up to the task today. He then went on to say that there isn't much difference between Malaysia and Indonesia, and that he is excited by his young squad, despite their lack of experience.

"Our team didn't have the stamina needed especially with Malaysia giving such a strong performance. There's not much difference between Indonesia and Malaysia but our defence was just a little too late today.

"Also, there was no pressing and we were let down by poor ball control from our players. Laos players are not too experienced as this is a very young team but the future is bright."