Saturday, 19 November 2011

Malaysia in confident mood for semi final against Myanmar in SEA Games

After being ferried into Gelora Bung Karno in armoured personnel carriers on Thursday, the national football players will arrive for today's semi-final against Myanmar in more traditional means.

Defending champions Malaysia gear up for the last four battle in confident mood having survived the stiffest test to their credentials by beating hosts Indonesia 1-0 to top Group A.

Defender Fadhli Shas, who made a similar entrance into the stadium at last year's AFF Cup final here, said players fought for air and space as up to 10 people were crammed into each Barracuda vehicle.

"The last time there were seven in each Barracuda. This time 10 of us were inside one and it became difficult to breathe and some were cramping.

"When we arrived by bus, the people outside were banging on the sides. It was dangerous but we were expecting it and it only made us more determined to win.

"But that's behind us now and we are looking ahead to the game with Myanmar," said Fadhli, who is one of five players in the current Under-23 team who played in last year's AFF Cup final second leg in Jakarta.

Coach Ong Kim Swee, however, will not be on hand to guide his players after being hit with a one-match ban yesterday following his banishment to the stands in Thursday's match.

As Malaysia prepare to  file an appeal today, Kim Swee has urged his side not to under-estimate a Myanmar team coach by Swede Stefan Hansson.

Myanmar have shown in holding Vietnam 0-0 in group play they can act as spoilers and end Malaysian dreams of a repeat gold medal.

The two teams have not met since 2003 when Malaysia won 3-2 in the group stage before winning the bronze medal playoff 4-3 on penalties when the match ended 1-1.

"All the teams in the semi-finals are equally good and we cannot underestimate any team.

There has been an improvement in the level of the players' performances but we still need to working on some areas.

"We may have beaten Indonesia and the win showed the great character of the players but we have not won the gold medal yet," said Kim Swee, who is still concerned over the lack of killer instinct by his strikers.

Izzaq Faris Ramlan was the main culprit, missing two good chances late in the match although Kim Swee was pleased to see Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim break his duck.

The win came at a cost however as Wan Zaharulnizam Wan Zakaria was ruled out of the rest of the tournament and Malaysia's two Olympic qualifiers next week due to a hamstring pull.

Syahrul should start on the right flank against Myanmar after coming on for Wan Zaharulnizam against Indonesia in the only change expected to be made.

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