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Malaysia ready to upset Iraq in AFC U23 opener - Ong Kim Swee

Malaysia ready to upset Iraq in AFC U23 opener - Ong Kim Swee
From ESPN - January 9, 2018

CHANGSHU -- Ong Kim Swee believes his Malaysia team can spring a surprise during the country's debut appearance at the AFC U23 Championship as they prepare to play former champions Iraq in China on Wednesday.

Malaysia face a potentially daunting task having been drawn to take on Saudi Arabia and Jordan as well as the Iraqis, and the step up in class is not lost on coach Ong as he readies his team to face the 2013 winners.

"We ca not deny that Iraq is a very good team, based on their record in youth and at senior levels," he said.

"For us they are a team we have looked at and the players are aware how good Iraq are. But, at the same time, we are going to play as we normally play and our players will give whatever they can to compete with Iraq.

"With the right tactical approach and with discipline we might get a good result."

Ong's men will meet an Iraqi side missing one of their most influential players. Striker Aymen Hussain is suspended for the meeting with Malaysia as he serves a two-game ban after receiving a direct red card in the final round of qualifying last year.

Hussain's absence is significant, with the Al Shorta striker rated highly in Iraq after he finished the qualifying phase of the competition as the leading scorer across all 10 preliminary groups with six goals in just three games.

And while Malaysia's record at U23 level in regional competitions is traditionally strong, Ong stressed there is a significant step up in class from Southeast Asian to continental level.

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