BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
The Young Tigers are ready to pick up some experience from their first ever appearance in the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship finals, as well as spring a few surprises, according to head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee.
Malaysia will kick off their Group C campaign against Iraq on Wednesday 4.00pm Malaysian time, in the tournament that is held in Jiangsu, China.
"It has been a good preparation for us, as you know it is our first AFC U-23 competition. I believe this will be a good beginning for Malaysian football.
"We're looking forward to it, it's not an easy tournament, and I believe it's going to provide us with experience," said Ong during the Group C pre-tournament press conference on Tuesday.
But when asked by a reporter, Ong admitted that the AFC finals will be a tougher competition than what the side are used to, such as the Southeast Asian Games' (SEA Games) football competition.
"The SEA Games is definitely a different level of competition with the AFC finals," remarked Ong.
"This is a bigger challenge for the boys, of course we've done well in the qualifiers and in age-group tournaments in our region, but at the same time to be here playing against Iraq, Jordan and Saudi (Arabia) will definitely give us a lot of experience.
"We need to work very, very hard, I believe my boys are ready. We hope to learn a lot, and probably come away with surprise results."
Asked about his plans against former champions and 2016 semi-finalists Iraq, the former Malaysia senior coach said that his team will be playing differently as compared to the way they have been playing.
"We can't deny that Iraq are a very good team at youth and senior levels, but for us it's the game that we are looking at.
"The players are aware of Iraq's strengths, but at the same time we won't be playing as we have normally been playing. We will do whatever is necessary to compete against Iraq. With the right tactical approach and discipline, we may get a good result," remarked Ong.