Malaysia won't respect Myanmar too much in SEA Games clash - Ifwat
Malaysia may be riding high after consecutive Southeast (SEA) Asian Games victories, but they are preparing themselves for a test of character against Myanmar on Monday.
The battle of unbeaten sides at Shah Alam Stadium is likely to decide who will win Group A and get a potentially easier semifinal.
Myanmar dismantled Singapore 2-0 and Laos 3-1 to top Group A on goal difference.
Goalkeeper Ifwat Akmal says that while the Monday clash will be difficult, he predicts that Malaysia will more than match them.
"Myanmar are a good team, with fast and intelligent players who always are looking for empty spaces. But we don't need to show them much respect because we have strong qualities too to come away with a win," Ifwat told ESPN FC.
"It is pivotal that we win our remaining two games to finish as group champions. We have some time to recuperate and be fully prepared before we face them on Monday."
The Myanmar women's team thrashed their Malaysian counterparts 5-0 in the women's football competition of the SEA Games on Thursday, but it is likely to be a different story when the men's sides face off.
Ong Kim Swee's men have done well to come out of their shells when put under pressure.
The 2011 SEA Games winner has also been spot on tactically, with three of his substitutions resulting in goals in the opening two matches, through Adam Nor Azlin, N. Thanabalan and Nor Azam Abdul Azih.
Nor Azam, who dragged Malaysia level with a powerful strike against Singapore, vowed to repeat that performance if brought on again.
"The competition in midfield is high, and I was just happy to be given a chance. If the coach decides to use me again, I will just set out to do business in the best way possible," Nor Azam said.
"Our chances are bright to make the semifinals, but we can still fine tune some areas to continue improving."
Malaysia beat Myanmar 2-0 in a July friendly before they left to Bangkok where they unexpectedly topped a AFC U23 Championship qualifier group that included defending SEA Games champions, Thailand.
After Myanmar, Ong's men will complete their Group A campaign against Laos on Aug. 23.
Nicolas Anil is a former Malay Mail and Goal.com Malaysia editor/writer who appears on BFM Radio as a football analyst. Twitter: @nicolas_anil.