Malaysia won't park bus in AFC U23 decider - Ong Kim Swee
Malaysia coach Ong Kim Swee has no plans to adopt the defensive approach that earned Vietnam a surprise victory over Australia at the AFC U23 Championship when his side go into their must-win meeting with Saudi Arabia in Kunshan on Tuesday evening.
After their creditable 1-1 draw with Jordan on Saturday, the Malaysians need to take all three points in the Group D encounter against one of the giants of Asian football to have a chance of advancing to the last eight of the competition. But the former national team boss will not alter his team's style of play in pursuit of the win.
"Last night, I was watching Vietnam against Australia and throughout the 90 minutes Vietnam were behind the ball, not from the middle of the pitch, but right in their defending third and they just went for the counterattack," Ong said after seeing Park Sang-Heo's side hand Australia a surprise 1-0 defeat.
"Now, I can play with the same style as Vietnam and I might get a point or three points, but are we satisfied with those three points? And what are we learning? The boys have shown a very good improvement, they are believing in themselves and going on the attack.
"When you attack, you do leave a lot of room but if they're good at that I don't see why I should stop them. They should go on doing what they were doing in the second half against Iraq and in the entire game against Jordan. I believe they can do much better.
"I'm not going to stop them from attacking. We need to win, we need to score and if you don't attack you don't win, so it will be the same approach."
Malaysia are bottom of Group D after two games. But the point earned from a come-from-behind draw against Jordan means victory over the Saudis could see Ong and his team progress to the quarterfinals.
The Saudis are a point ahead of Malaysia having drawn their games against Jordan and Iraq. The Iraqis, who defeated Malaysia 4-1 in their opener, lead the group with four points and take on Jordan in their final match of the group phase.
"They're not that much different from Iraq and Jordan," Ong said of the Saudis. "In the Middle East, they are very skillful and they have some individuals who make the difference.
"Against Jordan, Iraq and Saudi, we have to be very disciplined and the most important thing is that we improve from how we did against Iraq. We improved against Jordan but we conceded a silly goal and we have to avoid that. If we can do that, we have an equal chance to beat them.
"It will be interesting to see how the Saudis go. They need to win too. They can't take things for granted. Probably if they draw they will go through because if Jordan lose then they'll qualify, but anything can happen."
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch