OKS: Malaysia’s lack of offensive threat a concern

Happy with his team’s display at the back, Malaysia coach Ong Kim Swee admits there is a concern up front after saying the Tigers should have got the winner against Afghanistan. 

Malaysia coach Ong Kim Swee has mixed emotions after the Tigers were held 1-1 by Afghanistan at Shah Alam Stadium on Tuesday.

While he was happy his squad are no longer looking fragile at the back, Ong said there was more work ahead further up the pitch as the Malaysians are still searching for fluidity in attack.

There were flashes of good movements in the opposing half that Ong could take back, especially considering Malaysia’s attack have been blunted since the international retirement of Safiq Rahim and Amirul Hadi Zainal, but the host simply failed to keep their game going.

“I believe we should have won the match… especially based on the second half, where we played better and looked more likely to do something,” said Ong.

“Overall I am happy that the players understand what I want from them in terms of defending as a unit.

“No doubt attack is a concern but we’ll work on that. I emphasised more on defending during this camp because we had problems there. We need to shift our attention and cover more bases.

“I hope we can improve before our first AFF Suzuki Cup match on November 20. I take it as a good sign that players are showing me that they want to play. I had to juggle between giving some players a chance today and getting a result.”

Ong made eight changes to the line-up that drew with Singapore 0-0 last week – including handing Kedah’s Syazwan Zainon and Fazrul Hadli Kadri of Perak their debuts.

The Malaysians, however, sat too deep in the opening 25 minutes and were made to pay after Noarollah Amiri found the back of the net in the 21st minute.

Afghanistan, however, were forced back and conceded after Hadin Azman headed in Matthew Davies’ corner in the first-half’s stoppage time.

“We were supposed to defend deep from the start but we ended up being too deep and left space for their midfield to dictate play. When we pushed higher up, we found space and kept doing that,” said Ong.

“The players I gave a chance today took it. Hadin did well, Shahrul sort of sorted the problem in the middle and Zaquan was getting forward too. Even Syazwan did his part before he got injured early on.

“I have some decisions to make before naming the Suzuki Cup squad. There’s one more league match and two more Malaysia Cup matches so I need to see who is available after that.”

Main Photo: Weixiang Lim/FFT