BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
After Malaysia's 2018 AFC U-19 Championship campaign came to its end with their 2-0 defeat to China on Friday, midfielder Nik Akif Nik Mat will now focus his efforts on earning a spot in the senior squad for the coming 2018 AFF Championship.
Needing to beat China while hoping that Saudi Arabia defeat Tajikistan in the other Group D match, Bojan Hodak's charges failed to take the chance, despite the Saudis eventually trouncing the Tajikistanis 3-1.
Speaking to the press after the match, Akif, who captained the side on Friday, apologised to the fans for the defeat and exit.
"I apologise to all Malaysians for the failure, we have done our best but it wasn't our night. We lacked composure when attacking and could not score against China.
"They were bigger so we had to avoid using aerial balls. We were too afraid to play in the first half, and only towards the end did we tried to attack more.
"Now I'm on the standby list for the AFF Championship, so I will prepare myself in case I am called up," said the 19-year old Kelantan player.
Akif is one of the three players called up to Malaysia's provisional squad for the tournament, according to an announcement made by the Malaysian FA earlier this week.
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