BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Malaysia U-16's campaign in the 2018 AFF U-16 Championship ended in the semi-finals, after they were beaten 1-0 by host country Indonesia U-16 at the Gelora Delta Stadium, Sidoarjo on Thursday.
The only goal of the match was scored by Amiruddin Bagus Kahfi from the spot in the 72nd minute, after Malaysia custodian Abdul Alim Al Amri Ali fouled Mohammad Supriadi in his own box.
Responding to a question by a member of the press after the match, the Young Tigers' head coach Raja Azlan Shah Raja So'ib denied that his charges were affected by the provocative chants sang by the partisan home crowd at the start of the match.
"These boys are already familiar with the atmosphere of a packed stadium, mostly as ball boys during matches. Now they are players themselves, so the crowd does not bother them.
"The disrespectful songs were only heard at the beginning, and there was no trouble in general. This is part and parcel of football and my boys were able to adapt to the atmosphere. Everything was under control, praise Allah.
"The chants sang by the crowd back home in Malaysia are almost similar to what we heard here. The beats are similar, the words are similar. The fans are here just to cheer their team on," he explained.
On the match itself, Raja Azlan said that it was a tough game against a very organised side, and his boys had to play a counter-attacking game.
"We had to defend completely while launching into attacks from time to time. We were organised, especially our defence and midfield. My boys were able to hold the hosts to a 0-0 scoreline at halftime, and in the first 10 minutes of the second half we tried pressing from higher up the pitch. But ultimately we had to defend more because Indonesia were well-organised, especially in attack.
"And I expected that the home team would not be able to score against us from open play, only from dead ball situations and set-pieces, and that's what happened. A communication breakdown between the defence and the goalkeeper then led to him conceding the penalty," noted the coach.
The Young Tigers will now play in the third-place play off against Myanmar, on Saturday. The winners will be decided between Indonesia and Thailand, on the same day.
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