Malaysia get boost for SEA Games with Guangzhou win on China tour
Malaysia Under-22 coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee has almost decided on his core players for August's Southeast Asian (SEA) Games after his side ended their China tour with an impressive 3-0 victory.
Thursday's win against the reserve side of Guangzhou Evergrande was earned through goals from Jafri Firdaus Chew, Syafiq Ahmad and N. Thanabalan.
The Malaysians had earlier drawn 2-2 with Guangzhou R&F reserves on June 13 after a 1-0 loss to China U22 three days earlier.
"Our mission for this China tour was to assess the quality of all the players in the team," Ong said.
"For this game against Guangzhou Evergrande, I put out our best lineup and we came out on top. Only S. Kumaahran and Syahmi [Safari] didn't start through injuries."
"We have shown that we can put the ball in the net. But there is still work to do, we need to work on other areas ahead of another friendly against Melaka United on March 22."
The Melaka United friendly will be one of the bespectacled coach's final tests of his players before he leads them to the 2018 AFC U23 qualifiers in July followed by the SEA Games.
The 46-year-old Ong, who returned to the development side after losing the national senior team position to Portugal's Nelo Vingada, says his side faced a tough, physical challenge on their tour.
"Both these Evergrande teams are good, not forgetting the China U22 who gave us a stiff test. Physical-wise, I think there were lessons to be taken from this game," he said.
Malaysia are placed in Group H of the AFC U23 qualifiers along with Indonesia, Mongolia and hosts Thailand.
Malaysia will begin the tournament against Indonesia (July 19), before facing Thailand (July 21) and Mongolia (July 23).
Ong will be trying to win the football gold medal at the SEA Games for the second time, having led Harimau Muda to glory in 2011 in Indonesia.
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