Olympic squad promise to improve after losing to Japan
Statistics don't lie and the numbers from Malaysia's Olympic qualifier 2-0 loss to Japan on Wednesday painted a damning picture.
As anyone who watched the game would agree, Japan dominated from start to finish and the figures will attest to that.
Japan peppered the Malaysian goal with 26 shots, half of them saved by skipper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, easily the national Under-22 team's best player of the night.
In contrast, Malaysia managed only two attempts, the first of which did not come until the 53rd minute with Abdul Shukur Jusoh's wayward shot before Fandi Othman had a go in the 62nd minute.
Malaysia earned their first of two corners in the 81st minute and only had 32 percent of ball possession.
Outplayed is putting it kindly but coach Ong Kim Swee, while admitting there is a huge gulf in standard between the two teams, said Malaysia can only improve on the display at the Tosu Stadium.
"Japan are at a different level from us," said Kim Swee after watching his side beaten for the first time in the qualifying campaign for the 2012 London Olympics.
"From this match, we saw how fast Japan were able to move and we were too slow at getting the ball. Japan closed us down easily in the middle and we were not able to go forward.
"We need to learn the lessons from this game to apply to our remaining five matches. The good thing is that we play our next two matches at home and we have to use home-ground advantage to get back on track."
Syria, who defeated Bahrain 3-1 in the other Group A match in Zarqa, Jordan on Wednesday, are Malaysia's next opponents on Nov 23 followed by Bahrain four days later.
Both of Japan's goals resulted from Malaysia giving the Japanese too much space and the score line could easily have reached double figures had it not been for the excellent Khairul Fahmi.
"He played very well and kept the score down for us," said Kim Swee of the goalkeeper.
"It is not just about saving shots but also his ability in organising the defence and motivating the players."
The state and club-based players will be released for the Malaysia Cup after returning home yesterday and those not involved in the Malaysia Cup will regroup in October for an Under-23 invitational tournament in Vietnam in preparation for the Sea Games the following month.