'Gold medal will prove Malaysia youth system works' - OKS

A win over regional powerhouse Thailand will show that Malaysia's youth development is not too far behind, says Malaysia U23 head coach Ong Kim Swee.

BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter

Ahead of the SEA Games football final match between hosts Malaysia and Thailand, Young Tigers head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee has expressed another reason that his charges must win.

When met by the press during the team's recovery session in Shah Alam on Sunday, Ong said that a win will prove that the country's youth development works.

"Thailand sides are always good, regardless if it's their senior team or the junior sides.

"On Tuesday we will play at home so there's nothing to be afraid of and I believe the players have improved from one game to another.

"In the final they will be fully motivated and I am hoping for a good result, and to prove that our youth system is on the right track," explained Ong.

He however revealed that striker Kumaahran Sathasivam will be out of the match due to his knee injury. In their 1-0 semi-final win over Indonesia, the Pulau Pinang player, who had been a doubt before the match, got on the receiving end of a reckless challenge by Ricky Fajrin, and had to be replaced by club teammate Jafri Firdaus Chew.

After the match, Kumaahran had to be carried by teammates and team officials while celebrating with the home fans, and into the team bus that took them back to their hotel.

But according to Ong, he is not concerned by Kumaahran's absence.

"Kumaahran's knee injury seems very serious and he is expected to be unavailable against Thailand.

"I still have five other strikers; Jafri, Akhyar [Rashid], Syafiq [Ahmad], Thanabalan [Nadarajah] and also Safawi [Rasid]. I believe that whoever is selected to replace Kumaahran will do just as well," he noted.

The final match will be played on Tuesday, August 29 at the Shah Alam Stadium, with kickoff at 8.45 pm.