New Straits Times

Malaysia storm into AFC Under-19 finals

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MALAYSIA needed only a draw against formidable Thailand yesterday. But Brad Maloney’s boys had other ideas.

They went one better, defeating Thailand 1-0 to capture top spot in Group G in the 2020 Asian Under-19 Championsh­ip qualifiers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Top in the group means Malaysia will be going to the AFC finals in Uzbekistan next year.

Umar Hakeem scored the allimporta­nt winner for Thailand in the 84th minute.

“The tournament has been great with very difficult games and difficult circumstan­ces at times. Thailand today had to go for the win but we stuck to our principles and managed to get a positive result for ourselves,” said Maloney.

“We kept to our style of play, didn’t just sit back to play for the draw. We continued the way we played the whole tournament and the boys have been rewarded for that.

“When I was appointed for this role, we sat down together with the president Datuk Hamidin, general-secretary Stuart (Ramalingam) and head of youth Ong Kim Swee. We knew what kind of style we want to implement and we’ve worked tirelessly these past few weeks.

“Today the boys proved themselves to be quality players and if they continue like that, Malaysian football has a bright future and will be in good hands,” said Maloney.

The win meant that Malaysia kept a 100 per cent record in the qualifiers with four wins from four matches, scoring 27 goals in the process.

Several of the players in the squad will now look to bringing their momentum to a higher level when they join up with the Under-23 side currently preparing for the Sea Games.

On the basis of what they have achieved thus far, no one will be betting against the likes of Luqman Hakim or Umar from making Kim Swee’s final squad.

 ??  ?? Brad Maloney
Brad Maloney

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