OKS thrilled at squad depth as changes inspire comeback win over Singapore
The Malaysia coach threw on Nor Azam Abdul Azih and N. Thanabalan in like-for-like substitutions for Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik in central midfield and Syahmi Safari on the far right respectively and it turned out to be a masterstroke as both players scored to overturn the deficit, after Amiruldin Muhammad Nodin had put the visitors ahead at Shah Alam Stadium.
I have more depth here compared to the AFC Under-23 qualifier we played in Bangkok in July
Ong had made six changes to the side that defeated Brunei 2-1 on Monday, but it looked like a stronger side on paper with the inclusion of Syamer Kutty Abba, S. Kumaahran and Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik.
“Yes, the two changes made at half-time made the difference for us. It was unfortunate we couldn’t find our rhythm in the first half. The second half was our real strength,” said Ong.
“I made six changes but all of them that started were regulars. As for the goalkeeping change, I have two goalkeepers that are both good and I can rotate them.
“I have more depth here compared to the AFC Under-23 qualifier we played in Bangkok in July.”
Ong explained that he opted not to start Azam despite the latter having a good game against Brunei because he had played many games for Pahang in the domestic season.
His replacement Amirul didn’t have the best of nights and Ong admitted the Kedah regular could have done much better.
If we want to go further in the competition then we have to avoid making mistakes that cost us goals
But he also cited fatigue, a different style of play compared to his club football and a recent injury as reasons for a below-par performance.
The 2-1 win ensured Malaysia and Myanmar, who defeated Laos 3-1 on Wednesday night, both have six points after two rounds of matches, with Gerd Zeise’s men top on goal difference.
Singapore, Brunei and Laos have zero points. Laos and Brunei, however, have only played one match.
Ong insisted Malaysia still need to keep their feet on the ground and said that they need to avoid making mistakes if they are to go far in the competition.
“We are almost in the semi-finals but not quite there yet. We must beat Myanmar in our next match,” said Ong ahead of a potential group decider on August 21.
“Also, if we want to go further in the competition then we have to avoid making mistakes that cost us goals. We have conceded two already in the competition and both were individual mistakes where the decision making was wrong.”
Main photo: Asiana.my/MASOC