OKS happy with Malaysian morale boost, but work still to be done

Malaysia recorded their first win since June on Monday, but coach Ong Kim Swee was quick to highlight areas that still need to be addressed ahead of the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup.

Ong admitted to mixed feelings after the Tigers defeated Papua New Guinea 2-1 at Shah Alam Stadium.

The win does do us good in terms of morale before the Suzuki Cup. The players showed some character

- OKS

Relieved his charges will enter the AFF Suzuki Cup with a win behind them – something Malaysia haven’t been able to do since June – Ong pointed at several areas that need improvement.

Among his biggest concerns were the lapses in concentration at the back and fluidity in attack.

"I can't say I'm happy with what I saw, but the win does do us good in terms of morale before the Suzuki Cup. The players showed some character and that was good," said Ong.

"It's not perfect yet ... we still need to improve in some aspects. We have to stop making mistakes at the back because we concede unnecessarily then. I need better concentration.

"Also the transition from defence to midfield and attack is not up to a level we need yet. We have to be faster and smoother moving up.

“There are a few combinations to opt for and I am still looking for the best option after testing them out.

"Overall I was happy with the improved performance and I see commitment in the players. We had to pull back a bit towards the end because of the pitch condition after the downpour ... we didn’t want to lose players," he said.

Malaysia went behind after six minutes when Nigel Dadinyaba's shot deflected off Shahrul Saad, who was to be blamed for the attempt following a poor clearance.

Ahmad Hazwan Bakri struck back in the 21st minute after a lob by Irfan Fazail while Amri Yahyah converted a spot kick after Darren Lok was brought down early in the second half.

Ong will drop one more player from his provisional squad on Tuesday before heading to Yangon for the Suzuki Cup group stage. Perak captain Nasir Basharuddin and Malacca defender Ahmad Khuzaimi Piee have already been ruled out due to injuries.

"It will be a tough decision on who to leave behind. I need to discuss with my coaches and decide. It is difficult because all of them in the squad are showing commitment and desire to play," said Ong.

One player certain of making the squad is Lok, who Ong believes will be an asset for the Tigers in the competition. He has struggled to win admirers in his short time in Malaysia thus far, but was applauded off the pitch against PNG.

Photo: Weixiang Lim/FFT