AFC UNDER-22: Players to make amends
MALAYSIA will be hoping to bounce back from Saturday's 3-2 defeat to South Korea in their opening Group G AFC Under-22 Qualifiers when they face the Philippines in what should be a straight forward win in Yangon today.
The team cannot afford another slip-up today as it will put a huge dent in their bid to qualify for the tournament proper next year.
Malaysia's fragile makeshift back-line, led by Fandi Othman, had a poor opening game and coach Ong Kim Swee is likely to start centre-back Fadhli Shas, who returns after serving a one-match suspension, to add stability.
Kim Swee could also opt to drop Portugal-bound Nazmi Faiz Mansor, who had a poor game on Saturday, and start Gary Steven Robbat, who shone as a substitute against the Koreans.
Malaysia cannot afford to take risks against the Philippines, who lost 5-1 to Myanmar in their opening match, as their rivals are also desperate for a win.
"We would have earned at least a point against Korea if our back-line were composed. We lost because of our own mistakes," said Kim Swee when contacted in Yangon yesterday.
"I am disappointed as we lost to an average Korean side. It is a result which I cannot accept especially after my players showed so much commitment."
"We cannot afford to make silly mistakes. It is best that we work on our weaknesses to get better."
On today's match against the Philippines, Kim Swee said his players are eager to make a huge impression.
"It is better that we shift our focus to the Philippines match as we need this win to re-ignite our ambition to qualify for the tournament proper.
"The Philippines are probably the weakest team in this competition but we must not take them lightly as a lot is at stake in this match," he said.
Malaysia need a win today to avoid complications in the tournament which has turned unpredictable after minnows Taiwan edged Vietnam 2-1.
"It is always unpredictable in age-group tournaments and we must not take any match for granted," Kim Swee added.
Korea will play Taiwan in their second match today while Myanmar will face Vietnam.