Malaysia matched China's performance on the first day of action in Group J of the AFC U23 Championship qualifier, at least from a points perspective. China currently lead the group after their 5-0 win over Laos with Malaysia right behind, with two goals less.
Malaysia's 3-0 win over Philippines came with a bit of hard work despite not needing long to break the opponent's defence. Akhyar Rashid scored in the 4th minute then added to his tally with a clever flick in the 31st minute but the home side were made to wait until the 82nd minute before Faisal rammed home the third goal.
With the first match day being one with goals galore in almost all the groups, Ong Kim Swee knows that it was an opportunity wasted not to have scored more given the dominance that Malaysia had on the game. Kim Swee rued the missed chances but knows that as long as destiny is still in their own hands, Malaysia have every chance of making it through.
"It's a good win. Like I said before the game, we need a win. We got three points and that the most important to start with. But of course we feel frustrated with all the chances we created but can't score. We are not looking at just today's game but we have to look at day after tomorrow and China, and China got five goals. What we have to do if we reach the last game and need to win, then we have to win to qualify."
"With the chances that we have, we can't convert and I have another three strikers on my bench. So I have to give everybody a chance. Maybe today is not Hadi's day. I changed Faisal and he scored. Nik Azli had three or four chances in 30 minutes, and that's what I'm looking for. We know that goal difference is crucial in this stage of the qualifiers," said Kim Swee in the post-match press conference.
There were however a controversial sequence of play during the game when Malaysia got the third goal. Philippines had kicked the ball out for a throw in and should have gotten the ball back from Malaysia immediately. Instead, Malaysia seized the opportunity to create the third goal which was scored by Faisal.
That goal angered the Michael Asong as well as the entire Philippines bench due to the lack of sportsmanship shown by the host. However, Kim Swee was keen to point out that it was necessary evil considering the extraordinary means that Philippines went to waste time towards the end of the second half in an effort to keep the score down.
"You can say that it's not fair play. But you look at the situation where Philippines had two players falling down and you know that they are here to control the damage, but we are here to get the goals. If they keep on stopping, when can we get the goals?"
"But I don't blame Faisal. Are you going to stop all the time? And it's not a main injury, it's cramp. So what do yo want to do? One after another? So there's a point where you do fair play but I don't think this is a main issue. Of course I don't like that to happen but at the same time, we need to think. We need the result. At the end of the day, when we play China and lose by one goal difference, should we have taken that chance?" added Kim Swee.
Kim Swee will have only 48 hours to mull over his blunt attack which saw multiple chances falling to first Hadi Fayyadh and then to his replacement Nik Azli Nik Alias. The head coach will also have to check on the fitness of key midfielder Danial Amier who had to be substituted and then was seen leaving the stadium helped by his team mate onto the team bus.
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