JAKARTA, Sept 5 (Bernama) -- National head coach Tan Cheng Hoe today praised the fighting spirit showed by his charges as they secured a 3-2 hard fought win over Indonesia in the Group G opening match in the second round of the 2022 World Cup / 2023 Asia Cup qualifier at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium here tonight.
The 51-year-old coach admitted that in the first half, his squad which comprised mostly young players, failed to absorb the pressure and couldn't adjust to the intensity of the match in front of tens of thousands of home supporters.
However, things changed in the second-half, where the Malaysian players were calmer and bolder, which Cheng Hoe regarded as key for their victorious performance to bring home three valuable points.
"We were a little nervous as most of the players were playing at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium for the first time. It was a great performance, especially in the second half.
"They were very focused on the game and they had nothing else to think about but play well. This was one of their best performances," he told a press conference after the match.
In tonight's match, naturalised player Mohamadou Sumareh came off the bench to score two goals in the 37th and 97th minutes, while the other goal was scored by midfielder Muhammad Syafiq Ahmad in the 65th minute.
The victory saw Malaysia ending their 15-year losing streak at the Gelora Bung Karno stadium after their 2-1 victory in the first leg semi-finals of the 2004 AFF Cup.
Malaysia will continue its qualifying campaign against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Tuesday.