Exclusive Report By Vikneswaran Raman
MANILA, Dec 2 -- The national under-22 team head coach, Datuk Ong Kim Swee, hopes the 4-0 win over Timor Leste tonight would increase the confidence level of his charges in their do-or-die battle against Cambodia on Wednesday.
After opening their Group A campaign with a 1-1 draw against Myanmar last Monday and a shock 0-1 defeat to hosts Philippines on Friday, the young tigers finally bounced back to record their first win in the SEA Games at the Rizal Memorial Stadium here.
Only the top two teams advance to the semifinals and Myanmar have confirmed their place in the last four as the group winner with 10 points from four games.
Now, second placed Cambodia, third placed Malaysia and fourth placed Philippines, all with four points but separated by goal difference, are set to battle it out for the remaining slot to the semifinals on Wednesday.
Cambodia have the advantage with a four-goal difference after whipping Timor Leste 5-0, while Malaysia have three and the Philippines are in balance after scoring and conceding three goals.
The Philippines have a relatively easier schedule against minnows Timor Leste, while Malaysia and Cambodia will slug it out for three points and need a superior goal difference if the hosts win big.
But Kim Swee seems focused on securing the full three points against Cambodia in the 4pm match, before the hosts play four hours later.
“It is a good win. It would give a level of confidence to our boys, as we know playing against Cambodia is not easy. Knowing they still have chance to qualify if they beat us, I do not think it will be easy; so the approach will be a different kind of play style.
“My main concern today was if we conceded goals but we were very lucky they missed so many chances and (goal keeper) Muhammad Haziq Nadzli did well. Yes, there was a gap in defence, whether you like it or not, you need to open up and take the risk if you want to score more goals.
“Against Cambodia, we must first think of winning the game, not about scoring big. We cannot be thinking about getting goals before winning. The four goals showed how the boys reacted to the Philippines defeat,” Kim Swee said in a post-match press conference.
Meanwhile, Timor Leste’s head coach Fabiano Flora said the inability of his charges to score goals showed the difference between the players from two nations, where Malaysia have an active pro league, while Timor Leste just play amateur league.
“Malaysia created some chances, we made mistakes and they scored. This is the difference. We just did not score goals, but the players were organised.
“I feel that we played much better in the second half compared to Malaysia. Good possession, dribble, individual skills and created seven or eight chances but could convert the chances,” he said.