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AFC U23 Championship

Safawi eyes improved finishing in subsequent U23 games

07:43 EAT 23/03/2019
Malaysia U23 v Philippines U23, AFC U23 Championship qualifiers, 22 Mar 2019
The new Malaysia U23 captain got the new era off to a positive start but looks to improve one particular section of the team ahead of Laos clash.

Malaysia strolled to a comfortable 3-0 win over Philippines in the AFC U23 Championship qualifiers at Shah Alam Stadium but in reality, the score should have at least been doubled. Earlier in Group J, China trounced Laos 5-0 which already immediately put Malaysia in a disadvantage.

Akhyar Rashid got two goals while Faisal Halim claim an opportunistic one but all eyes were on Hadi Fayyadh and Nik Azli Nik Alias who shared the top striking role between them in the match and both could have easily matched Akhyar's brace had they been more efficient in front of goal.

However Safawi isn't too downbeat with his team mates on one 90 minutes. The Johor Darul Ta'zim forward believes that the duo will be firing on all cylinders sooner rather than later, albeit after some more practice work done during training.

"We got the three points we wanted but we did not manage to convert a lot of the chances that we created during the game. Now we have to put that aside and just focus on the next game. Being a captain changed nothing, I still play my usual game."

"I think Nik Azli and Fayyadh played well against Philippines but perhaps luck wasn't on their side on the day. Maybe they'll score in the next game but in Saturday's training, for sure we will doing a plenty of shooting and finishing drills," said Safawi after the match.

It was a day of goals in the opening day of the qualification as teams started off in a fiery mood all across Asia. Goals were the name of the game in wins for Palestine, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Japan, South Korea, Myanmar, Australia, Thailand and Vietnam who all won by a bigger margin than Malaysia did.

With the possibility of Malaysia finishing behind China in the group a real possibility, it could come down to who has the better goal difference who gets one of the four best runner-up spot to claim a place in the finals in Bangkok next year. A reality which Safawi knows all too well.

"If can, of course we want to score more (against Laos). We saw and know the other results are big elsewhere. End of the day if we can do something about it, we really do not want to go out on goal difference," added Safawi.


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