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ESPN FC  By ESPN

Amri Yahyah 'felt awkward' as defensive lapses cost Malaysia

Amri Yahyah vs. Timor-Leste 2016
Amri Yahyah found himself in defence for the closing stages of Tuesday's Asian Cup qualifier.

Veteran attacker Amri Yahyah admits he felt "awkward" playing out of position in Malaysia's 2-1 home defeat to Lebanon in 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifying on Tuesday night.

Despite taking a lead through Mahali Jasuli's fortuitous strike in the first half, Malaysia wilted in the final 10 minutes against the Lebanese, who delivered a sucker punch through Rabih Ataya's brace.

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Amri played out of position at left-back for the final 17 minutes. He was left for dead on both occasions by Rabih Ataya, as the Lebanese, missing in-form Johor Darul Ta'zim striker Mohammed Ghaddar, were still too good for the Malaysians in the Group B match in Johor Bahru.

"It was awkward for me to play in that position, as I had never played there before," conceded Amri, a natural winger or forward.

"But I had to help Nazirul [Naim] who was tiring out and having cramps, so I had no choice but to do my best.

"With hindsight, I think we should have won, given the chances myself and Amirulhadi [Zainal] had. One point would have been a good start, but we went to sleep at the last minute."

New Malaysia coach Nelo Vingada had opted for Ahmad Hazwan Bakri to lead the line, with Mahali Jasuli and Syazwan Zainon flanking him in a front three.

Malaysia did well to cope with the West Asian nation in the first-half, but Miodrag Radulovic's men upped the tempo in the second half.

Vingada, who only got to know his players over the past three weeks, said Malaysia's lack of concentration in the dying stages led to their downfall.

"It is a situation that happens, as big teams also switch off in the final minutes. I will have a lot of reference in July and August to monitor the players, and they will be better in September before our next game," the Portuguese boss said.

"What we need to work on is to create situations where players are more focused. I expected better transition from defence to attack because we lost the ball many times in the second half. We looked lethargic in the last 15 minutes, but it was loss of focus rather than an issue of the players' fitness."

Vingada is hoping to gather his squad in mid-August before Malaysia play their second Asian Cup qualifier, against Hong Kong on home soil on Sep. 5. The Malaysia Super League also takes a break during that period, with Kuala Lumpur playing host to the multi-sport Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

Lebanon top Group B on six points, followed by North Korea and Hong Kong on one point each.

Hong Kong and North Korea played out a 1-1 draw at the Hong Kong Stadium on Tuesday.

 

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