AS Malaysia faltered in their opening match in the AFF Under-18 Next Media Cup in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, fans claimed that coach Brad Maloney (pic) was trying too hard to “copy” the playing style of national under-23 coach, Ong Kim Swee.
The Australian, who had been Kim Swee’s assistant since 2014, utilised five midfielders in his first 11 against Vietnam. It ended in a 1-0 loss on Wednesday.
However, Maloney, making his debut as coach of the national Under-18 team against Vietnam, denied the claim.
The former Socceroo said he did not use Kim Swee’s tactics, and said he was using the Malaysian Way, as required by FAM in their national DNA plan.
“Part of my role is to prepare the players in a similar way to the national under-22s, so that we can have continuity between the national teams, and to provide the players with a smooth transition as they graduate to the older group,” he said.
“These things take time and I have worked with this group for only two weeks or so prior to this (AFF U18). I believe the players are adapting very quickly and regardless of the results, performance such as today’s (Malaysia beat Cambodia 3-0) is a testament to that.”
Maloney, 47, was appointed as the national Under-18 coach after FAM decided not to extend Croatian Bojan Hodak’s contract in June.
As the national Under-18 squad recovered from their opening match defeat to beat Singapore (3-1) and Cambodia, Maloney pointed out he hasn’t done anything differently from the Vietnam match.
“There are no easy matches here but I believe we are getting better game by game as the players adapt to our playing philosophy. The approach to this match (versus Cambodia) was no different to any other,” he said.
“I felt we were more dominant in all the key moments of the game and were able to capitalise on some early chances.”
For Wednesday’s clash against four-time champions Australia, Maloney is braced for a stormy time as the Socceroos have won all three of their last games.
“Australia are clear favourites with the majority of their players already on the books of A-League clubs, plus one abroad.
“We will stick to our strategies, and hopefully that will help produce a positive performance.”