The National Under-23 team had an opportunity to identify some areas that need improvement after losing 2-1 to Thailand in an international friendly match at Rajmangala Stadium in Bangkok, Thursday.
“Thailand is a good team but they won because of some blunders on our part and now we have to work to rectify it,” said Chief Coach, Ong Kim Swee.
In the match between two teams preparing for pre-Olympic qualifiers, Thailand led on the 19th minute while Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim equalized for Malaysia in the second half. Thailand took advantage of an individual mistake to score the winner in the 86th minute.
|Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim, youngster from Bukit Jalil Sports School|
The national Harimau Muda ‘A’ team will have an opportunity to test its strength again when the youngsters play the Singapore Under-23 team in the republic on Jan 24.
Malaysia has been drawn to play Pakistan in the first round of the pre-Olympics, with the first match in Kuala Lumpur (23 Feb) and the return leg in Karachi (9 March).
“The players gave a good fight all the way. They played well in the second half and I hope the players know that they have to improve as they prepare for the pre-Olympics,” said Kim Swee.
After the Singapore match, the Under-23 team will participate in the Super League which kicks-off on 29 January.
The last time Malaysia qualified for the Olympics were in 1980 but did not participate in the Moscow games because of a boycott. Malaysia also qualified for the 1972 Munich games and played in some high profile matches against top teams.
Malaysia defeated USA 3-0 through goals by Shahruddin Abdullah, Ibrahim Salleh and Wan Zawawi, The team, lead by skipper M. Chandran (now Datuk), lost 6-0 to Morocco and 3-0 to West Germany.
Thirty-five teams have entered the fray to grab the three-and-a-half slots reserved for Asia in the 2012 Olympics in London. The 11 winners of first round will join 13 highest ranked team in the second round where they will again play in a home-and-away format on June 19 and Jun 23, 2011.
The 12 winners will then be divided into three groups of four teams each in the third round. Again, a home-and-away format from September 21, 2011, to March 14, 2012, will determine the winners who will represent the continent in the Olympics.
Three second-placed teams from the third round will play in a playoff at a centralised venue from March 25 to 29, 2012, and the winners of this group will meet the representatives of CAF for a berth in the Olympics.