CHANGSHU: National Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee admitted that mistakes made by his boys were the reasons behind Malaysia’s 1-4 loss at the hands of Iraq in their opening Group C match of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 Championship at the Changshu Stadium in China earlier today.
According to him, individual mistakes allowed the 2013 champions to get two ‘gifted goals’ even though overall he commended his charges for their effort and determination to take the fight to the Iraqis.
"We lost to a much better team, what separates both sides is the Iraqi players individual quality. Our players did try but sadly we made mistakes and let in two goals.
"I am saddened looking at the 1-4 scoreline, what more because of two individual mistakes. When playing at this level, making such mistakes will get us punished and we were.
"However, what’s positive is seeing the players fight on even though we were trailing. They tried to reorganise and attack but to no avail,” he said during the post-match press conference.
The individual mistake referred to by Kim was Iraq’s second goal scored by Amjeed Attwan Kadhim in the 28th minute when Syazwan Andik failed to clear the ball and Hussein Al-Saedi’s fourth goal in the 81st minute was a result of a poor pass by Nor Azam Azih.
Iraq’s two other goals were scored by Mohammed Khalid Jaffal as early as the 5th minute and ALAA Ali Mhawi in the 57th minute.
What made things worse was after Safawi Rasid pulled one back in the 79th minute, Malaysia actually had a chance to score again in the 87th minute but substitute Akhyar Rashid’s shot which was seen as over the line was disallowed by referee Valentin Kovalenko of Uzbekistan.
"I will have to view the video of the goal once again, as it won’t be fair for me to make comment at this point. Whether it was a goal or not, what’s important was the players’ performance throughout the 90 minutes of the match,” said Kim Swee.
Malaysia are still in with a chance to advance past the group stage with two matches remaining, one against Jordan this Saturday and the other against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
And Kim Swee is determined that his boys will rise to the occasion.
"We are not giving up, we will be going all out for much better result in the remaining two matches,” he said.