Football

Published: Tuesday December 17, 2013 MYT 7:33:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday December 18, 2013 MYT 9:05:30 AM

Malaysia qualify for SEA Games semis (updated)

The Malaysian Under-23 football players acknowledging the crowd after they beat Vietnam 2-1 to qualify for the SEA Games semi-finals in Naypyitaw on Tuesday.

The Malaysian Under-23 football players acknowledging the crowd after they beat Vietnam 2-1 to qualify for the SEA Games semi-finals in Naypyitaw on Tuesday.

NAYPYITAW: National Under-23 coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee has again hailed his side’s never-say-die attitude after they beat Vietnam 2-1 in their final Group A football match at the Zeyar Thiri Stadium here on Tuesday.

The win, courtesy of goals by Ashri Chuchu (82nd) and D. Saarvindran (90th), confirmed Malaysia’s berth in the semi-finals before Mac Hong Quan scored a consolation goal for Vietnam in added time yesterday.

Defending champions Malaysia will take on Indonesia in the last four – in a repeat of their 2011 Palembang SEA Games final – tomorrow.

The other semi-final will pit Group A champions Thailand against Group B runners-up Singapore.

Kim Swee was clearly pleased with the performance of charges yesterday, saying “they are tired after playing two matches in four days”.

“They are very tired but they kept going and I must praise this attitude of theirs,” said Kim Swee.

“I will look at the players in the morning ... a number of them are fatigued. Ashri and Zubir (Azmi) are tired but they still gave 200% in the match.”

Vietnam, who needed a win to have any hopes of advancing to the last four, dominated possession and kept pressing the Malaysian backline – but to no avail.

Part of that boils down to the superb goalkeeping of Mohd Izham Tarmizi.

The breakthrough for Malaysia came in the last 10 minutes – just when the Vietnamese were wilting. And they hit paydirt thanks to two swift counter attacks.

“We only needed a draw ... we were in the driver’s seat as long we didn’t concede. Vietnam pushed forward for the goals but we did well to thwart them,” said Kim Swee.

“Vietnam had their chances but couldn’t convert. Our goalkeeper (Izham) has been consistent in all our matches ... he did well for us once again.”

Meanwhile, the 21-year-old Saarvin has promised to up his game for the semi-final match against Indonesia after finally breaking his duck in the competition.

“It’s great to finally score ... I’m glad my goal enabled us to win this crucial match,” said a jubilant Saarvin, who has featured in all four of Malaysia’s match.

“I need to thank the coach for having faith in me ... I didn’t score in our last three matches but he still picked me for this match.”

Tags / Keywords: football, SEA Games, Malaysia, Vietnam, Mohd Ashri Chuchu, Saarvindran

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