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Ong Kim Swee refuses to give up on Malaysia at AFC U23

Ong Kim Swee refuses to give up on Malaysia at AFC U23
From ESPN - January 12, 2018

CHANGSHU - Malaysia coach Ong Kim Swee remains confident his team can make an impression on the AFC U23 Championship when they meet Jordan on Saturday, despite a chastening defeat in their tournament opener.

Ong's team were on the wrong end of a 4-1 thrashing against Iraq, a nation that has a strong record at this level having won the tournament in 2014 and reached the semifinals -- qualifying for the Olympic Games as a result -- two years ago.

Next up is a Jordan side that conceded two late goals to slip to 2-2 draw against Saudi Arabia in their opening game, and who will present Ong and his players with another difficult challenge.

"It's only one game that we have played, so we are not going to throw in the towel yet," said Ong.

"The positives that we had from the first game, we want to make sure we can do those more regularly and we will try to get something from the second game."

Despite the margin of defeat, Malaysia performed admirably and, but for a pair of mistakes that cost them a couple of soft goals, their opening game would have been more competitive.

Their hopes for the game against Jordan have been hampered, however, by a hamstring injury to N. Thanabalan, who was Malaysia's leading scorer in the qualifying rounds. He limped off in the loss to Iraq, and his place is likely to be taken by Akhyar Rashid.

Akhyar came on as a substitute for the final 30 minutes of the Iraq game, setting up Safawi Rashid for his side's only goal of the game.

The Kedah striker is relishing another opportunity to make his mark on the competition, despite the challenging conditions.

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