CHANGSHU: National Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee wants his boys to seize just about any opportunity they can get over Saudi Arabia as the Arabs will be under even more pressure to get a good result in their final group C match of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 Championship at the Kushan Stadium this Tuesday.
He said Saudi Arabia, who were runners-up in 2013 will be the more desperate side chasing after their first win of the championship after drawing 2-2 against Jordan and being held 0-0 by Iraq, so both sides will be looking to book their place in the knockout stage.
"The Saudis are the seeded team, but we are also chasing after our first win of the championship as well to get to the quarter-finals.
"I feel the Saudis will be under more pressure than us, what more with their status as a seeded team,” he said when met after the team’s final training session in Changshu before they move to Kushan today (Sunday).
The national squad are in with a chance to qualify for the quarter-finals after holding Jordan to a 1-1 draw yesterday (Saturday). Earlier on Wednesday during their first group match against Iraq, the Malaysians suffered a 4-1 defeat.
Malaysia are now bottom of group C, but they can still grab one of two slots to the quarter-finals if they can upset the Saudis who are coached by Daniel Teglia, provided Iraq beat Jordan in the other match.
However, what worries the 47-year-old coach is the unwanted injuries to a few key players including their only goalscorer with two goals in the championship so far, Johor Darul Ta’zim’s (JDT) Safawi Rasid.
"We do not have any player suspended but Safawi, Dominic Tan, Syazwan Andik and Irfan Zakaria are all nursing injuries, so we will have to wait and see if they are able to recover in time and are fit to play or not by this Tuesday.
"The Saudis are not much different from Iraq and Jordan as they all play a fast paced game and their players are blessed with good, individual skills,“ said the former national senior team coach.