BY OOI KIN FAI Follow on Twitter
Malaysia's head coach, Datuk Ong Kim Swee chose to look at the positives despite the Harimau Malaysia's struggles against Singapore in the international friendly match played on Friday night. Speaking at the post match conference, Kim Swee praised the resoluteness of his team up against a Lions team that dominated for most parts of the match.
"It's a hard fought game. I believe our boys did well in terms of defending and playing as a unit. We did what we had to do. It's not easy as I have said. Singapore played with their best XI and it's good for the boys that we didn't concede."
Kim Swee started with Rizal Ghazali, Khairul Helmi, Shahrul Saad and Nazirul Naim as the back four and despite early scares, the quartet improved over the course of the match as the nerves went away. The introduction of Shahrom Kalam in the second half for Helmi, also had a calming effect on the backline.
"It's a brand new team and if you see the back four that played today, have never played as a team before. To not concede is a good result for us. If you see if I'm happy or not, the most important thing is to get the result. I would love to play beautiful game but at the end of the day if I don't win, it's going to be disaster. You don't play well but you do whatever you need to do and you get the result, that'll be good."
Irfan Fazail was paired together with Baddrol Bakhtiar in the centre of midfield with Amri Yahyah dropping in during defending but Malaysia's midfield were overrun by a Singapore's midfield that consisted of Hariss Harun and Izzdin Shafiq. Irfan struggled to impose himself in the match which left Baddrol with an enourmous task but Kim Swee was defiant that Irfan was the right choice.
"We know that we need midfielders who can hold possession so I believe Irfan, Amri and Baddrol are capable of doing that. I can put other players but I have to think how we can move the ball forward. Second half we did that well."
Going forward, it wasn't so pretty for Malaysia as Hassan Sunny in Singapore's goal remained largely untroubled throughout the match. Hazwan Bakri was left to firing shots from distance and the Army United keeper was certainly up to the task. Kim Swee lamented that if he had prior choices available, the outcome would have been different.
"You need to look at your quality. If I were to have the team that played against Timor Leste, I think we should do better than today. At the same time, these players have been given a chance to prove that they want to be in the team."
That said, Kim Swee retains confidence in the current set of players and hope to be able to continue working with the group ahead of the upcoming Suzuki Cup.
"Well, there's so many things going on in Malaysia. We have a lot of retirement and injuries so let's see what is going to happen. What I have to do after this is to groom them, build them and I hope this is the players I'm going to have until the Suzuki Cup. I'm looking to build these players that I have now and I have another five players in Kuala Lumpur that will join us tomorrow."
Malaysia will next play Afghanistan on Tuesday 11th October 2016.