BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Malaysia U-16 fell to a 2-0 defeat to Korea Republic U-16 in a friendly match that was held at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Wednesday.
Despite showing the ability to go toe-to-toe against one of the best junior national sides in Asia, the Young Tigers fell behind to Choi Kangmin's 40th minute goal, following a midfield error. The visitors then made near wholesale changes to their line-up at the start of the second half, and they dominated possession. Thankfully, they were not as clinical in front of the goal as they should have been, and could only add their second near the end of the match, a penalty that was converted by Lee Taeseok in the 89th minute.
The match was held in preparation for the 2018 AFC U-16 Championship in September, which will be hosted by Malaysia. Despite having qualified as the host nation, the Young Tigers also managed to 'qualify' for the finals through the qualification stage, which they participated in last year.
When met by Goal following the match, Malaysia head coach Lim Teong Kim said that he was satisfied with his charges' performance, if not with the scoreline.
"I'm not happy with the final result, I think the penalty was not the correct call as one of our defenders was shoved off the ball.
"But my boys showed they could match the opponents. We still have time to work on our game," he remarked.
His main concern at the moment is chiefly on his boys' confidence, as he believes that they are lacking in self-belief.
"The opponents changed almost all of their players at the start of the second half, and this showed the difference between the two sides. Not all of my players are ready to play in international matches. They need exposure and more matches like today's game, and this frankly takes time.
"They need to be educated that although they're playing a better side, they still need to be confident. I need to work on this, so that these Malay boys can develop their self-belief. This requires a long, long time. The boys can compete with the best teams, but to win they need to build up their self-belief," explained the former Bayern Munich youth coach.
The two sides will meet again in another friendly match, on July 17, Tuesday, at the same venue.