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AFC U23 Championship

Haziq looking for more defensive discipline against China

7:20 AM GMT+4 26/03/2019
Haziq Nadzli, Malaysia U23
After two early successes, Haziq Nadzli is hoping that Malaysia's run in the AFC U23 Championship qualifiers continues right into the crunch China tie

13 goals in two matches played, China are sending out strong warning signs that they are serious about making it through to the 2020 AFC U23 Championship finals in Bangkok, Thailand. Standing in their way is one last Group J match against Malaysia where Haziq and co are looking to be the first team in the qualifiers to shut out Guus Hiddink's side.

Seven different scorers thus far, the Chinese threat isn't solely focus on one or just two players. Hiddink has managed to assemble a complete team that does not look at the personnel but rather the system which brings out the best in the team.

Hiddink's China have yet to concede a single goal in the qualifiers thus far, a record which is shared by Ong Kim Swee's Malaysian team. Haziq and Dominic Tan are the familiar faces in defence but instead of Irfan Zakaria and Adam Nor Azlin, it is Syamer Kutty Abba and one of Shahrul Nizam/Evan Wensley who will be relied upon in Tuesday's match.

"Even though we kept two clean sheets so far, I'm still not completely satisfied with how we have performed. But of course I'm happy to not concede yet and hopefully against China, we can keep the momentum going. We have to be disciplined and follow the coach's instruction."

"We need to be very focus for the next game. Yes, there is some pressure because we know we can't match their goal difference. So we will have to go all out against China," Haziq told Goal.

China's physical prowess has continually been highlighted in the big wins over Laos and Philippines, which remains the biggest threat to Malaysia. Having shone in two matches played in the afternoon, China may even perform even better in this final group match played at night.

It would not be unfair to say that if Malaysia are to make it through to the finals, Haziq will have to have one of his best ever game as a goalkeeper. He and the team have done it before in shutting out South Korea in the Asian Games last year, so there's no reason to think that it's impossible for them to do the same to China.

Kim Swee altered his starting XI in the previous game against Laos, all for the purpose of keeping his players fresh for this one last battle. AFC finals and the Olympic dream rest on one single 90 minutes encounter, the stakes couldn't be any higher for Haziq and this Malaysia U23 team. 


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