MALAYSIA football coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee has told his players “to take charge” of their match against leaders Myanmar in their SEA Games top-of-the-table Group A clash at the Shah Alam Stadium tonight.
Myanmar top the group with nine points after three matches and are already through to the semi-finals.
Malaysia are second with six points from two matches.
Both teams are hoping to top the group to avoid meeting the Group B winners in the semi-finals.
Three teams – Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand – are vying to finish in the top two of Group B.
Malaysia won their opening two matches with identical 2-1 wins over Brunei and Singapore but their performance clearly shows that they are still not firing on all cylinders.
Kim Swee’s men may have beaten Myanmar 2-0 in a friendly the Shah Alam Stadium on July 13, but even he knows that tonight’s match is the real deal.
The national Under-23 coach even admitted that the clash against Myanmar will be “the toughest yet for my team”.
“Brunei and Singapore are not as strong as Myanmar.
“I hope my players have learned the lessons from those two matches,” said Kim Swee before the team’s training session at the Sime Darby training ground in Bukit Jelutong yesterday.
“The players showed character against Brunei and Singapore. We now need to take control of the match against Myanmar.
“I hope we don’t have to chase the game like what happened against Singapore. It will be easier for us to manage the game if we get off to a good start.”
Coach Gerd Ziese’s Myanmar team have been scoring for fun in the competition, having netted 11 goals in three matches.
Their striker Aung Thu leads the scorers’ chart with four goals.
Kim Swee, who has been focusing on the tactical plans for tonight’s match in the past three days, said there was no pressure on his team.
Malaysia need just one point from their remaining two matches – against Myanmar and Laos on Wednesday – to book a spot in the semi-finals.
“Myanmar have already qualified and are under no pressure.
“We just we need one point to qualify, so there’s no pressure on us either,” said Kim Swee.
“We know that they have an effective attack, so we need to tread carefully and not focus on any individuals.”