KUALA LUMPUR: National football team coach Tan Cheng Hoe blasted his clueless players as Malaysia went down to their second consecutive defeat in their 2022 World Cup-2023 Asian Cup qualifying match.
The Harimau Malaya lost 1-0 after Vietnam’s Nguyen Quang Hai scored in the 40th minute at the My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi on Thursday.
Malaysia opened their Group G campaign with a 3-2 win over Indonesia in Jakarta (Sept 5) but lost to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 2-1 at home five days later.
A disappointed Cheng Hoe said that his players’ overall performance was disappointing.
“We were not creative enough and our strikers were blunt. We didn’t play to our true strength like we did against the UAE.
“I have no problems with their commitment and spirit, ” said Cheng Hoe at the Noin Bai airport yesterday.
The 51-year-old coach also gave credit to Vietnam’s tight and disciplined defence as they kept his strikers at bay.
Striker Syafiq Ahmad concurred with Cheng Hoe saying that their rivals’ formation of five players in defence made it tough for them.
“I have to admit that I was struggling to find room to make a move. They also have good defenders and putting five in the back line made it very difficult for us to get into their penalty area.”
Shafiq however urged his teammates to set aside the disappointment.
“Luck was not with us despite trying our best... we need to put in extra effort to win the next game. There are many weaknesses that we need to rectify in order to compete with a team like Vietnam, ” he added.
Meanwhile, Vietnam coach Park Hang-seo was satisfied with his boys’ performance.
“They (Malaysia) read and studied us very well, but my players stuck to our tactics, and even though we beat them by only one goal... I’m very proud, ” said the South Korean.
With the defeat, Cheng Hoe’s boys dropped to fourth spot with three points from three matches.
Vietnam, who drew 0-0 with Thailand in their first match, are third with four points behind second-placed Thailand. The Thais also have four points but have a better goal difference.
The UAE are on top with six points after they thumped Indonesia 5-0 on Thursday. Indonesia are still without a point.
Malaysia have a chance to redeem themselves when they play two matches at home – against Thailand (Nov 14) and Indonesia (Nov 19).
I have to admit that I was struggling to find room to make a move... Luck was not with us despite trying our best.Syafiq Ahmad
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