The show will have to go on for Ong Kim Swee and his boys as they bid to bounce back from the dismal showing against the “Young Samurai” in the opening game of the Asian Zone final round Group C qualifying match for the 2012 London Olympics on Wednesday.
Skipper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat admitted that they had no choice but “to pick up the pieces after the 2-0 defeat by Japan at the Tosu Stadium”.
“We have to look forward ... and learn from the past,” said Khairul before the squad checked out from the team hotel early yesterday morning.
Japan made short work of the Malaysians but Khairul was outstanding between the posts. He was the diference between Malaysia restricting the Japanese to just two goals and getting a real hammering in Fukuoka.
“It was tough playing the top team in Asia but it was a good experience for all of us,” said Khairul, who is looking forward to putting behind the debacle as they prepare to face Syria next at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Nov 23.
“Syria won their opening game also and they are the team we need to beat to stay in contention in the competition,” said Khairul.
Syria defeated Bahrain 3-0 in another Group C match on Wednesday.
Asia has 3.5 slots for the 2012 London Olympics. The three group winners will win automatic slots. The three runners-up will compete in a playoff, with the winner playing an African representative for the last slot to the London Games.
Head coach Kim Swee said the players can make amends for the opening defeat by trying to get maximum points from the two home matches against Syria (Nov 23) and Bahrain (Nov 27).
“We had sent our man to watch the Syria-Bahrain game and we hope to redeem ourselves against these teams,” said Kim Swee, who hopes that fans and critics will give them a second chance.
“Let’s be realistic ... we lost to a better team. I hope the fans understand that Japan are the best team in Asia and their players have been playing in high intensity matches in the J-League, unlike our boys.
“That is why you can see them playing with so much confidence while we find it hard to cope with their fast brand of football.”