The Malaysia head coach will be looking to ensure that his team start well in the upcoming qualifier after early lapse led to slim 0-1 loss to Jordan.
It wasn’t the Merdeka present that the country wanted in losing the only warm-up match Malaysia has before the crucial 2022 World Cup qualification opener against Indonesia on September 5. It was small margins at Bukit Jalil National Stadium as a 7th minute goal from Jordan was enough for the away side to pick up a 0-1 win.
That first seven minutes of jittery and lapse of concentration apart, Malaysia more than held their own against a team that is ranked 99th in the latest FIFA rankings. In fact, Malaysia had a storming second half and could have drawn level if not for the heroics of keeper Yazeed Abulaila who earned himself the official man of the match award.
Speaking after the match, Tan Cheng Hoe rued the concession of the early goal but went on to praise the manner in which Malaysia dictated proceedings, particularly in the second half. Chances fell to Safawi Rasid and Hazwan Bakri but both found Yazeed to be a tough final wall to crack.
“I’m very pleased with the performance of the players. They have given their best, very committed. Of course in the first half, we were little bit slow starter. In the second half we were pushing to get the goal but unfortunately we can’t get the goal. The players know that if they want to go to the next level, they have to consistently play to improve themselves for the next game.
“What is important is that we cannot lose focus too early. In football, from the first minute we have to be ready and cannot wait for the opponent to score only we start our engine. It’s too late already because when we are 0-1 down, we need a lot of energy and motivation to win the match.
“Whenever we play against a better team, we have to learn. We cannot simply lose the ball. We have to keep ball possession. At the same time, when we lose the ball, we have to regain it quickly. The transition has to be quick. This is a good lesson for us to play against Jordan,” said Cheng Hoe in the post-match press conference.
The match saw Mohamadou Sumareh, Akhyar Rashid, Faiz Nasir and Jafri Firdaus Chew not selected as part of the squad. But opportunities to impress were handed to Brendan Gan, Danial Amier, Hadin Azman, J. Partiban and Hazwan Bakri as Cheng Hoe weighs his options for the final 23-man squad that will fly to Jakarta on Tuesday.
Brendan was his usual forceful self at the heart of Malaysia’s midfield, operating at the base of the midfield behind Danial and Nor Azam Azih. He was by far the most impressive of the newcomers to the team with his all-action performance. Danial was a bundle of nerves right from the start and even though he settled down midway through the first half, made way for Syafiq Ahmad at the start of the second half.
Cheng Hoe refused to be drawn into which four he will dropped but has indicated that an announcement will be made on Saturday after a review with his coaching staff. The 51-year-old is also demanding his defence to be more vocal after some heart-stopping moments at the back for Malaysia against Jordan.
“As we know, this is the first time for Danial in the senior team and it is not easy against a Jordan team who is much better than us. I don’t blame his performance but he will have to learn from this. Partiban has to improve on his adaptation to our game while Brendan you can see played well.
“We saw Adam and Shahrul in the play-off. There’s still a lot to improve because the centre backs are the last line of defence. Both have to combine well and have to communicate well to command, especially when we are chasing to regain the ball.
“The coaching staff has an idea on the starting line-up against Indonesia at Jakarta but there’s still a few more days of training left. I need the players to recover especially those who played the full 90 minutes because it was a high intensity game,” he added.
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