National Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee’s post-match press conference summed up Malaysia’s 4-0 defeat by Japan in their Asian Group C Olympic qualifying match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
The match was a dead rubber as Malaysia had suffered four straight defeats. They had earlier gone down by identical 2-0 margins to Japan and Syria, and 3-2 to Bahrain.
In Manama on Feb 5, Malaysia’s hopes of qualifying even for the playoffs hit the skids after losing 2-1 to Bahrain.
It was hardly an even contest as Malaysia were outclassed by Japan in every department in the white-wash on Wednesday night as Kim Swee opted to not “park the bus” in front of goal.
The ruthless Young Samurais completed their mission of winning and increasing their goal difference with goals from Hiroki Sakai (36th), Yuya Osako (45th), Genki Haraguchi (55th) and Manabu Saito (60th).
The win enabled them to regain top spot in Group C and their qualification for the London Olympics is practically sealed with Syria’s 2-1 loss to Bahrain.
Kim Swee conceded there’s a big gap between Malaysia and Asian giants Japan.
“We received a good lesson of what it takes to achieve their level. It’s what separates us from a good team,” said Kim Swee.
“We have to accept that we lost to a better side. Everyone can see that we have plenty of work to do.”
Despite the thrashing, which is also the biggest ever defeat the team suffered under Kim Swee who took over the reigns of the team in 2009, there is hope for the team.
The experience will be vital as the team prepare for the inaugural Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-22 Asian Cup qualifiers scheduled to kick off on June 23.
“We have to look at the future now. I believe the players would have learnt their lesson and will get better as they mature,” said Kim Swee.