Malaysia coach Ong Kim Swee accused some of his players of a lack of character after an experimental line-up suffered a 2-0 defeat to lowly Papua New Guinea in a poor start to their Oceania Tour in Port Moresby on Friday.
Ong himself could also face some criticism after some of the players he introduced to the line-up at Sir John Guise Stadium failed to impress against a nation ranked No.193 by FIFA.
It is disappointing some players didn’t show their character and help each other out
The Tigers will play New Caledonia (June 22) and Fiji (June 26) before returning home.
Ong made six changes to his most recent Malaysia line-up from the successful Asian Cup qualifying playoff against Timor Leste, including giving Kedah goalkeeper Farhan Abu Bakar and PDRM’s Abdul Latiff Suhaimi their debuts.
The head coach also opted to give Azrif Nasrulhaq and Khair Jones full-back roles after the duo featured on the wing last time out. Baddrol Bakhtiar, who featured in a more defensive role previously, played behind 35-year-old Amri Yahyah up front.
“It is disappointing that some players didn’t show their character and help each other out. The second half proved that even with 10 men we can play better if the players have the mentality of wanting to do something,” said Ong.
“I hope this disappointing result will give us a lesson and teach us to bounce back … we have to be consistent. Some took it easy after the wins over Timor Leste. Those given a chance again in the remainder of the tour must show their worth if they want to remain in the squad.
Those given a chance again must show their worth if they want to remain in the squad
“Among the goals we came here for were to improve our ranking, tighten our game play and get results … we didn’t do all that today but I believe we’ll get something positive come the end of this trip.”
The 173rd-ranked Malaysians enjoyed a fair share of ball possession in the opening 20 minutes, but soon fell behind to Tommy Semmy’s goals in the 35th and 42nd minutes.
The visitors made five changes at half-time, introducing S. Kunanlan, Fazly Mazlan, Amirul Hadi Zainal, Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik and S. Chanthuru in bid to turn the tie around.
Their cause was not helped after going a man down in the 66th minute when centre-back Shahrom Kalam picked up an injury. Ong had made all six changes permitted in an ‘A’ international friendly and the Malaysians were forced to soldier on.
The visitors pressed to reduce the deficit and almost pulled one back when substitute Christie Jayaseelan struck the post in the 82nd minute but that was the closest the Tigers came.
Surprisingly, Ong never introduced the in-form Ahmad Hazwan Bakri despite the latter scoring three goals in his previous two matches.
Photo: Football Association of Malaysiacomments