PETALING JAYA – The Incheon Asian Games bound National Under-23 football team is capable of making it to the quarterfinals, said Malaysian contingent Chef-de-Mission (CDM), Datuk Danyal Balagobal Abdullah.
Danyal said though Malaysia are drawn in a difficult group together with host South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Laos, he was confident with the ability of the squad coached by Datuk Ong Kim Swee.
“I take our badminton team that played in the Thomas Cup in New Delhi, India as an example. Even without the presence of senior players, the general expectation was a quarterfinal spot.
“However, they managed to enter the final. For me, nothing can stop them (football team) from winning at the Asian Games. We must be open minded about our chances,” Danyal told reporters after watching the squad training under Kim Swee at Wisma FAM, in Petaling Jaya, Wednesday.
According to Danyal, the target of reaching the quarterfinal, set by the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), was a realistic target and the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) had accepted the decision by the OCM to place football under Category B.
“Don’t go there with inferior complex. This is anybody’s games. Our Under 23 is doing very well. What is important is discipline. We know that the Koreans have reached their current stage due to their discipline,” he said.
Kim Swee’s boys will play a friendly match against Yemen on Sept 6 at the Shah Alam Stadium before meeting China’s Under 23 squad on Sept 10.
Malaysia open their Asian Games campaign in Group A against host South Korea on Sept 14, before playing Laos and Saudi Arabia.
Only the top two teams qualify for the quarterfinals. – Bernama