Safee Sali (left) in a file photo. His spotkick in the dying minutes of the international friendly against the Philippines was saved. The match ended in a goalless draw. – Bernama Photo
PETALING JAYA: National interim coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee refuses to blame striker Mohd Safee Sali after he missed a spotkick in the dying minutes of an international friendly against the Philippines.
Malaysia were held to a goalless draw by the Philippines in the match at the Cebu City Sports Complex on Sunday, after Safee’s spotkick was saved by Philippines goalkeeper Patrick Deyto in injury time.
Kim Swee said Safee showed confidence in stepping up to take the shot, and was just unlucky.
The drab draw extends Malaysia’s winless run against the Philippines to four matches since 2012.
Kim Swee, who deployed a 4-1-4-1 formation against the Philippines’ team, known as the Azkals, said his boys played well and came close to winning.
“I can’t blame Safee for the miss ... he was our key player when Malaysia won the AFF Suzuki Cup in 2010 and he showed character to take the penalty when the others were hesitant,” said Kim Swee.
“The plan was to be very organised in own area and try to catch them on a fast break. It almost happened with good combination between Mohd Amri Yahyah and striker Mohd Norfarhan Mohd in the first half.
“We were going to go for a final push in the last 15 minutes if the score was level. We got what we wanted when the Azkals grew tired but unfortunately we couldn’t convert the chances we created.”
Kim Swee pointed out that the Philippines, who are preparing for the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup in Maldives next month, had better preparation for the match.
The AFC Challenge Cup offers a ticket to the AFC Asian Cup which will be held in Australia next year.
“At the end of the day, they are a strong team with players based abroad and they played two international matches before facing us. We only had four days to prepare and six players reported a day before departure,” added Kim Swee.