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Malaysia

Vingada praise Syamer but concedes qualification difficulty

05:06 IST 11/10/2017
Safiq Rahim, Nelo Vingada, Malaysia, Lebanon, Asian Cup qualifier, 13/06/2017
Malaysia struggled from start to finish against Hong Kong and now face the risk of watching the 2019 Asian Cup as a spectator.

After the 2-0 reverse to Hong Kong on Tuesday, Malaysia are all but confirmed to be out of the running to reach the 2019 Asian Cup finals. The defeat in the vital Group B encounter sees Malaysia stay rooted to bottom place in the group with only one point from three matches.

The result elsewhere saw Lebanon handing North Korea a 5-0 beating, a result which gave Hong Kong the second spot. With the remaining games coming up against North Korea (twice) and Lebanon, Malaysia still retain a slim chance of qualification but will need as many points as possible from those three matches.

Eduardo 'Nelo' Vingada spoke to the press after the defeat at Hong Kong National Stadium and was unequivocal that the better side won the night. The Portuguese put the turning point in the match down to one decision before half time that changed the game in favour of the home side.

"Congratulations to Hong Kong, they deserved to win. They were better than us. Until the end of the first half when we were still playing 11 v 11, Hong Kong was having a lot of the ball but not making any good situations. We were in control at least in defensive situations."

"Of course with 10 v 11 and suffering the goal two minutes before half time, made it difficult. At the start of the second half, conceded another goal and the game was effectively over," said Vingada.

The decision to award Safiq Rahim a red card put Malaysia at a numerical disadvantage and Hong Kong took the invitation to pile on more pressure and eventually found their route to goal via two headed goals from Jordi Tarres and Jaimes McKee. 

Vingada accepted that the red card to Safiq was a justified one but one that was borne out of carelessness rather than an attempt to injure a Hong Kong player.

"It was far away from my position. I think he tried to control the ball and his touch was a little bit in front. I accept that where he put his foot, the ball was not there and he touched the player of Hong Kong. It was not intentional but maybe you can say it was the correct decision."

"With one man less and losing the player who make the connection between midfield and attack, of course things became harder. But we cannot say we lost because of the referee because the referee made a good job," explained Vingada.

The Portuguese head coach opted to start the match without a recognised striker following the injuries picked up by Darren Lok during training leading up to the match. The loss of Hazwan Bakri and Shahrel Fikri before the national team flew off to Hong Kong, added to the troubles in the squad.

However, the lack of presence up front was just the impetus that Hong Kong needed to stake a claim for the match and Malaysia were struggling to get out of their defensive blocks, with forays past the halfway line a rarity in the match.

"Things didn't come as I expected. We were looking to utilise the speed of Safawi [Rasid] and Wan Karpet [Syazwan Zainon] but the transition from midfield wasn't working. The second half with a reference in front, we play better than in the first half. But Darren [Lok] wasn't able to play the entire game."

"We have to be realistic. Qualification is not close but it's difficult. To keep our hopes alive, today the minimum was a draw. To lose the game, it means we have no advantage to confront with Hong Kong. Situation is now more harder than before. 

"Even though as a coach, the result is what matters, we can see from today that we started with three players Under-23. [Matthew] Davies started and Syamer [Kutty Abba] in one hour was very good. Safawi, I changed him because of reorganisation due to Safiq's red card," added Vingada.

Worrying times for the Malaysia national team and Vingada in particular. With no wins in five matches since he assumed duty with the national team, the pressure is definitely heaping on Vingada.