SEPANG – Malaysia’s Under-22 (U-22) squad are wary of the threat posed by regional rivals Thailand and Indonesia in the AFC Cup (U-23) qualifying round in Bangkok, Thailand from July 19 to 23.
Head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee said the two neighbouring countries and Mongolia who are the opponents in Group H, are not easy to beat, but still hope his players can spring a surprise in the tournament.
“We will focus on one match at a time. Malaysia’s chances of advancing depend on the results against Thailand and Indonesia.
“Thailand are strong but at this stage, the contest will be very close,” he said when met by reporters before leaving for Bangkok at KL International Airport (KLIA), here today.
Malaysia will open their AFC Cup campaign against Indonesia on July 19 followed by Thailand on July 21 and Mongolia on July 23.
Kim Swee was confident that the squad would put up a commendable display despite missing six key players who were not released by their employers (teams).
The six are Matthew Davies and Mohd Nor Azam Azih (Pahang); S. Kumaahran and Syamer Kutty Abba (Penang), Haziq Nadzli and Safawi Rasid (Johor Darul Ta’zim).
Malaysia have to become group champions or the fifth second best teams in the eight groups to qualify for the tournament’s final round in China in 2018. – BERNAMA