PETALING JAYA: Giant-killers Malaysia will take on South Korea without fear in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 Championship quarter-finals at the Kunshan Stadium in China today.
For Datuk Ong Kim Swee’s(pic) men are out to tear up the form book once again after stunning Saudi Arabia in their last Group C match on Tuesday to reach the last eight.
Debutants Malaysia opened their campaign with a 1-4 defeat to Iraq on Jan 10 but revived their quarter-final hopes by holding Jordan to a 1-1 draw last Saturday.
Buoyed by their historic quarter-final appearance, Malaysia fancy their chances of springing a surprise on the experienced South Koreans, runners-up in the last edition of the biennial competition in 2016.
“The Koreans have been in this stage many times but it’s a new ride for us,” said Kim Swee in the pre-match press conference yesterday.
“They boast many successes in the youth tournaments. For us, we’re hoping to match them in every way possible.
“I don’t see playing in a big game as an issue for our players, but playing at this level of intensity and against a quality team like this will definitely be a big challenge for the boys.
“I hope they’ll come out with something. I said before the tournament that we’re here to learn, but at the same time, we’re here to create an upset.”
South Korean coach Kim Bong-gil said his team were fired up despite having one rest day less than the Malaysians.
The 51-year-old former international’s side booked their berth in the last eight after a hard-fought 3-2 win over Australia in their final Group D match on Wednesday.
“The Malaysian team have an advantage with an extra day off but our players are in high spirits and I believe in them.
“We had our rest day yesterday and we’re focused on our recovery, so it shouldn’t pose a big problem.
“The match against Australia was very difficult, but so were the other two games. Nobody can predict the result but we’ll do our best from the first whistle.”
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