NATIONAL Under-23 coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee (pic) has rubbished suggestions that his side will take minnows Laos lightly in their final Group A match at the Shah Alam Stadium tonight.
Malaysia, who have nine points after three matches, only need a draw against Laos to top the group ahead of Myanmar, who have nine points from four matches.
The incentive for the group winners is that they will meet the runners-up of Group B, which is still wide open with three teams – Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia – battling for the top two spots.
However, Kim Swee is not thinking about their semi-final opponents yet.
He is more focused on ending the group stage with a unblemished record.
“I need to look at the players’ condition and those who have yet to play, like Syazwan (Zaipol). I will field my strongest XI because we want to win all our matches,” said the former international.
“I don’t think we are in a situation where we can pick our semi-final opponents. Actually, it’s the teams in the other group who are at an advantage as they know who they’ll face in the semi-finals.
“We just need to make sure that all the players are in the best shape to play in the semi-finals.
“I also don’t think my players will be complacent against Laos.”
The 46-year-old was also full of praise for top scorer N. Thanabalan, who has scored three goals in three matches.
“Thanabalan is a natural finisher and is also hard working. He was still running in added time (against Myanmar). If he continues like this, he’ll be a threat to any team,” said Kim Swee.