KUALA LUMPUR: The national Under-18 squad have advanced to the 2019 Asean Football Federation (AFF) Under-18 Championship semifinals even though they lost 1-0 to Thailand in the final group match in Vietnam today.
This followed the defeat of hosts, Vietnam to Cambodia in another Group B match and Singapore’s 5-0 trashing at the hands of Australia.
With the results of today’s matches, Australia returned to the summit of the group with 12 points while Malaysia are second with nine followed by Vietnam in the third place with seven.
“It wasn’t the result that we wanted. But we have qualified for the semifinals,” said interim head coach Brad Maloney.
The squad who began the tournament as the defending champions looked lethargic against Thailand at Thanh Long Stadium today.
An attempt by Thailand via Thirapak Prueangna in the 18th minute was saved by goalkeeper Firdaus Iman Mohd Fadhil.
He was also tested by a thunderous drive by Kritsana Nontharat.
In the 33rd minute, Muhammad Firdaus Kaironnisam almost found the net when goalkeeper Thirawooth Sraunson managed to push the ball away and both teams were tied 0-0 at the end of the first half.
However, Firdaus Iman made a mistake in the 58th minute allowing Sitthinan Rugrueang to score Thailand’s winner.
Stunned by the setback, Malaysia swung into full attack mode but failed to find the net right to the final whistle.
The national squad will be facing Group A champions, Indonesia in the semifinals on Saturday.