SEPANG, Jan 23 ― National Under-23 (U-23) football coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee today challenged all players involved in the AFC U-23 Championship 2018 in China to grab the opportunity to become one of the 11 key players in their respective teams for the Malaysia League (M-League) tournament.
Knowing the tough challenges that awaited the boys, Ong said each of them had to work hard to prove their capability to their coaches and to earn their spot.
He said their success stories in the U-23 squad should not become an excuse for them to feel comfortable.
“They must work hard and cannot blame anyone but themselves if they did not get selected as one of the 11 key players.
“When you sign up a contract with a team, you shouldn’t feel too comfortable. If you feel that way, you might not get listed in the team,” he told reporters upon arrival at the KL International Airport from China last night.
The national U-23 squad made history by advancing to the quarter final of the AFC U-23 Championship 2018 after finishing second in Group C, with losing 1-4 to Iraq in the first match before rising to a 1-1 draw with Jordan and and scoring a historic 1-0 victory against Saudi Arabia.
In the quarter-final match against 2016 finalist, South Korea, the national squad displayed a commendable performance after finding an equaliser through substitute striker N.Thanabalan after South Korea scored their early first goal in the 15th minute.
However, Malaysia’s hope to spring another surprise was dashed when Han Seung-Gyu scored the winning goal in the 85th minute to book a semi-final berth for South Korea. ― Bernama