Beto rues the physical mismatch against DPR Korea

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Beto was delighted to make his debut but look to make a far bigger impact when the next chance comes around.

It was a night of mix emotions for Ahmad Khairil 'Beto' Anuar after Malaysia's 1-4 defeat to DPR Korea in Monday night's Group B 2019 Asian Cup qualifier played at I-Mobile Stadium in Buriram, Thailand.

The 22-year-old Perak player made his first ever full senior international appearance but it was also the match that saw Malaysia suffer the same fate as they did when the two met each other four days earlier.

Fielded in his favourite central midfield position, Beto was designated to sit alongside Francisco 'Kiko' Insa to give Malaysia's defence an additional barrier. It was a decent outing for the midfielder as he showed tenacity and was able to win a few challenges as well as helping his team to drive forward when the chance came.

However, that was still not enough as DPR Korea displayed just how vast the gap is to Malaysia as they took a 3-0 lead into the half time break. Nelo Vingada made the decision to take off Beto to send on Safiq Rahim as his replacement.

"I was able to adapt, to defend and challenge. Just that we lost to their superior physicality. That is one thing we can't avoid because it is what it is. That said, I can't be happy to have only played one half, I wanted to play but it's the coach's decision. If I get more opportunities in the future, I hope to do better," said Beto after the match. 

Having tasted his first international match, Beto is relishing for further chances but is also acutely aware of what he needs to improve should he want to make more of an impact the next time round.

"When in Malaysia, we still had time to look for friends and run. But it's different at this level. We don't have the same amount of time to react. We need to be fast-thinking because the pace at international level is something else," he added.

His age still makes him eligible to participate in the upcoming AFC Under-23 Championship in China in January next year, Datuk Ong Kim Swee has already earmarked Beto to be one of the players selected. With the experience gained with the senior team, Beto will surely be a key figure in the Malaysia U23 squad.

 

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