Malaysia eye Group B top spot as Maloney’s boys charge into semifinals

National under-23 squad head coach Brad Maloney during the match against Laos in Nam Dinh May 11, 2022. — Bernama pic
National under-23 squad head coach Brad Maloney during the match against Laos in Nam Dinh May 11, 2022. — Bernama pic

NAM DINH, May 15 — After confirming their semifinal spot in the 31st SEA Games, the Malaysian men’s football team now have set their sights on completing their round of Group B matches on top of the table. 

National under-23 squad under head coach Brad Maloney now wants nothing less as his charges take on Cambodia in their final group match at the Thien Truong Stadium tomorrow.

With seven points already in the bag, a win against Cambodia will guarantee Malaysia’s passage to the last four as group leaders, bearing in mind that closest rival Thailand (six points) are expected to win their match against Laos in the group’s final match. 

“We want to be at the top of the group stepping into the semifinals,” he told Bernama after Malaysia’s 2-2 draw with Singapore at the Thien Truong Stadium yesterday. 

That draw proved to be the spanner in the works for Maloney’s initial target of ending the group matches with a perfect win record and automatically booking their spot in the last four. 

However, just hours later, Malaysia did just that after Thailand crushed Cambodia 5-0 in another Group B match. 

Based on the competition’s cross-match format, both Group A and B leaders will play the runners-up of the other group respectively. 

On paper, hosts Vietnam are expected to have little problems topping Group A while Indonesia and Myanmar will slug it out for the other semifinal spot. 

Maloney knows that on the pitch, anything could happen, saying that Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia all are good teams.

However, for now, his boys are solely focused on their next task ahead against Cambodia, he said. 

“No easy beat in this tournament and every game is a tough game. So we just focus on the next match against Cambodia and we reassess things after that,” he said. — Bernama