Kim Swee: We almost did it
Malaysia Under-23 head coach, Datuk Ong Kim Swee, believes that his side’s 2-2 draw with China in the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers is a fair result.
The Harimau Muda’s hopes of making to the championship in Thailand next year were dashed after they finished as runners up in Group J and as the seventh best second-placed team overall.
Despite the disappointing outcome, Kim Swee hailed his side for giving it their all and coming very close against a superior team which had more time to prepare for the qualifiers.
“China are a very strong team that has depth as well, line-up changes make little difference to them. And they have prepared [for the qualifiers] for three months while we only had around 20 days.
“When I did not field several players against Laos (on Sunday) we struggled; [because] we lack depth. That was why I rested Nik Akif, Hadi [Fayyadh] and Safawi [Rasid] so that they’d be fresh for the China game. There’s always a reason for my decisions. Today we almost did it.
“For our boys to show character is a good result for us, but still it wasn’t enough for us to qualify. They prepared in UAE, Bangkok and then Kuala Lumpur. Tell me, do you think we can qualify if we had three months? I’m not complaining, I know my boys can play well in big games, but the most important thing is for them to be consistent,” said the 48-year-old.