KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 18 — National Under-23 squad head coach Brad Maloney has been left to rue his side’s failure to capitalise on their chances in their shock 2-1 loss to Laos in the first Group B match at the 2022 Asean Football Federation (AFF) Under-23 Championship in Cambodia, today.
Maloney said they should have done better and scored more goals, especially in the first half of the match at the Prince Stadium in Phnom Penh.
The Australian coach also admitted that the team lost their way in the second half, thus allowing Laos to stage a fightback.
“We lost our way a little bit in the second half and conceded a few silly fouls in dangerous areas, particularly when we let in the second goal.
“This loss is definitely a learning curve for us. If we want to progress to the semi-finals, we have to get a positive result in the next match (against Laos at the Morodok Techno National Stadium on Monday, February 21),” he said at a virtual press conference today.
Meanwhile, Laos head coach Hans Michael Weiss admitted that today’s result was a big surprise for his team, describing it as something that only occurred once in a blue moon.
“During the break, I told my players ‘don’t put your head down, don’t dwell on the mistake’ and to try to get a result,” he said.
Malaysia drew first blood through midfielder A Selvan at the stroke of half-time before Laos skipper Bounphachan Bounkong inspired a comeback for Laos when he equalised in the 55th minute.
Defender Phetdavanh Sangvilay’s header from a perfectly floated Bounphachan freekick then found the net in the 78th minute to ensure Laos walked away with all three points in the first tie against Malaysia today.
Laos now have the upper hand and Malaysia have no choice but must win the second match against Laos, at least by a 2-0 margin, if they hope to get into the last four.
The Group B fixtures only involve Malaysia and Laos after Myanmar and Indonesia withdrew from the championship due to Covid-19 infections in their teams.
Only the three group winners and the best second-placed team will advance to the semi-finals on February 24, with the final slated for February 26. — Bernama