KUALA LUMPUR – National under-22 squad coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee refused to blame goalkeeper, Muhammad Haziq Nadzli for his error that handed a goal, and eventually victory to Thailand in the 2017 Sea Games football final at the Shah Alam Stadium.
At a press conference after the game, Kim Swee said the unfortunate error committed by the 20-year-old goalkeeper, who punched the ball into his own net when defending a corner, could have been committed by any player.
“It’s a difficult situation for Haziq, and the mistake can happen to any player. We cannot blame him, he’s still young and still learning,” he told the media.
The defeat appeared to mirror the 2001 final in which Malaysia was defeated by similar circumstances when then national goalkeeper Kamaruzaman Hassan gifted a victory to the Thai squad in the same venue.
The failure to win the Sea Games’ “mother of all gold medals” continues to haunt Malaysia since it was last won by Kim Swee’s squad at Jakarta in 2011.
According to the former national player, he is satisfied with the performance of the players throughout the tournament but still expressed slight disappointment for failing to make that final push for gold.
“We had a great start to the game, but we gave them an untimely goal. We tried to push back but we could not make any breakthrough.
“I’m not happy because we didn’t win the gold medal but I’m satisfied with the overall performance of the players with the limited time we’ve had. We have proven that we can compete with the teams in the region” said Kim Swee.
Although Thailand maintained much of the possession in the first half, they were unable to penetrate the well-organized home side, until Haziq’s mistake.
The young goalkeeper who came out to clear a Sasalak Haiprakhon corner, inadvertently punched the ball into his own goal.
The goal was enough for Thailand as Kim Swee’s boys were unable to find any breakthrough despite heavy pressure late into the game. -Additional reporting by ZULFAIZAN MANSOR
Source: NST/Translate from Harian Metro