National Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee conceded that Malaysian football still had a long way to go after his side’s 2-1 loss to Bahrain in their Asian Zone Olympic Group C qualifier at the National Stadium in Manama on Sunday.
The defeat and Syria’s 2-1 upset over Japan in another Group C match, ended Malaysia’s wafer-thin hope of earning a playoff spot for the Olympics.
To add insult to injury, midfielder Wan Zack Wan Haikal Wan Noor (pic)was shown the red card for arguing with the referee after the match.
“It was a disappointing result. We repeated the same mistake of not staying focused until the final whistle,” said Kim Swee, who returned with the team yesterday.
“The players still haven’t matured and we have a long way to go to become a force in Asia. We are out of the competition but the players gained valuable experience.
“Nobody expected us to reach this far in the campaign and it’s good to finish among the top 12 Under-23 teams in Asia. We now know where we stand and will have to work harder.”
The team struggled to gain a foothold in the match against Bahrain and obviously missed centre-back Mohd Fadhli Shas who was suspended.
Bahrain, who controlled much of the proceedings, capitalised on Malaysia’s poor defending to open the scoring in the 25th minute through Mohammed Al Alwi’s tap-in.
Substitute Ahmad Hazwan Bakri equalised for Malaysia in the 85th minute but Husain Al Farhan clinched the winner for the homesters four minutes later.