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Cambodia U23 v Malaysia U23

Kim Swee readies for big post-mortem after shock early SEA Games exit

9:42 AM IST 05/12/19
Luqman Hakim, Cambodia v Malaysia, SEA Games 2019, 4 Dec 2019
The Malaysia U22 head coach was upfront in admitting that his side truly did not deserve progression and vows to seek improvement from all aspects.

Malaysia's campaign in the football event of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games came to an abrupt end after the completion of the Group A matches on Wednesday and the tournament will be looked back as a very disappointing one.

Finishing fourth in the group behind Myanmar, Cambodia and Philippines with only one meagre win over Timor Leste does not make for good reading in any circumstances and highlighted how the team failed to grow throughout the competition.

The team lacked fluidity, understanding and for most parts, looked like a bunch of strangers playing together for the first time. Head coach Ong Kim Swee admitted as much and went on to stress that if the sum does not make its part, even the supposedly lesser teams in the region are now able to take advantage of the situation.

"Congratulations to Cambodia. Definitely we didn't play as well as Cambodia. From day one, we were struggling every time we play. We don't convert our chances, where we had one very good at the start of the second half then Cambodia got their first goal.

"We have to look back at how we prepared the team. We cannot show our real strength in the first game, struggled against Philippines and got a good win against Timor Leste. But today (Wednesday) again, we don't play as what we should. We have the same players but they have not played together and some of them have not been playing regularly.

"There's a lot of things to talk about when we go back and we have to look back at how we prepared the team. At the same time, the players have to understand that at the moment Cambodia, Philippines and Laos are not like they were 2,4 or 6 six before where it's an easy win whenever we play them.

"When people say it's easy, it's not. You can see that all the teams in Southeast Asia are improving. When we take things for granted, this is what happen. We learn. We are not far away but at the same time, we cannot take things easy," said Kim Swee in the post-match press conference.

In Irfan Zakaria, Adam Nor Azlin, Syahmi Safari, Dominic Tan, Syamer Kutty Abba, Danial Amier and Akhyar Rashid; Kim Swee had players who are part of the senior team structure in his Under-22 side. But most, if not all were underperforming in Philippines.

Kim Swee pointed back to the time when he had ample time to prepare and work the team prior to their relatively successful run in the 2018 AFC U23 Championship as the big difference to what he had to face this time around. The head coach accepts that performance hasn't been up to scratch and plans to go back to the drawing board.

"Some play regularly, some don't play at all. We had few days after the World Cup qualifiers to get them to be together but with that kind of situation, we definitely need more time. Just look at how Cambodia and Myanmar prepare their team. Even though you have good players, you need to be together for some time. 

"You can't just come and play where it's just 3-4 days, definitely we will struggle. It's proven. Before we go for the AFC U23 in China two years ago, we had a month's preparation including training in Korea and we did well, the boys gel well. It's about the preparation, but it's not an excuse. 

"We had 6-7 players from the senior team but we can't blame them at the same time because the amount of minutes that they play and with only training, it's definitely different. We have to think about what we do next. It was obvious that we weren't good enough to qualify for the next round.

"I have to think of our future and what we can plan for our development so that we can come back and be among the best in Southeast Asia. This is not the end of the world, just that we have to buck up. We have to go back and do the post-mortem not only to look at our U22 but all the categories. This is a wake-up call for us," added Kim Swee.


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