KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will face an acid test against defending champions South Korea in the men’s Asian Games football competition today.
Datuk Ong Kim Swee’s men got off to a good start in the Group E match by beating Kyrgyzstan 3-1 at Jalak Harupat Stadium in Bandung on Wednesday but they can expect a torrid time against the Koreans.
The Koreans showed they meant business when they trounced Bahrain 6-0 in the first match with Hwang Ui-jo emerging as the hero after scoring a hattrick.
Malaysia have never beaten South Korea in the Asian Games over the last 16 years.
The Koreans outplayed Malaysia 4-0 in the group match at the 2002 Busan Games and scored a 3-0 win also in the group match at the 2014 Incheon Games.
Kim Swee admitted that the Koreans were far more superior than them in every department.
They could end up as the whipping boys if the Malaysian defence marshalled by Dominic Tan fail to step up after their shaky performance against Kyrgyzstan.
“The Koreans proved they are the team to beat after taking an impressive 5-0 lead against Bahrain in the first half,” said Kim Swee.
“We know that they have not 11, but 20 calibre players who can play well to beat any team in the Games.
“We know their strength and we cannot make any defensive error as we will be punished by their strikers.
“We have to be disciplined and play a tight marking game. The Korean will be going all out to defend their title. We cannot rely on individual players but we must play as a unit to create an upset.
“We came close to beating them in the quarter-finals of the Under-23 Asia Cup in China in January but we lost 2-1,” said Kim Swee.
The bulk of the Malaysia’s Asia Cup players are in the Asian Games squad.
Malaysia will be banking again on strikers Muhd Safawi Rasid, Muhd Akhyar Abdul Rashid and Muhd Syafiq Ahmad to rise to the occasion after they scored one goal each against Kyrgyzstan.