AFC U-15 Qualifiers: Win over Cambodia and Laos key for Japan cruncher - P. Maniam
Last Update: 14/09/2019
SEPANG, Sept 13 -- National Under-15 squad head coach P.Maniam has described the first two matches of the 2020 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-16 Championship qualifiers in Vientiane, Laos beginning next Wednesday as key to completing their mission to qualify for the tournament proper.
Malaysia have been drawn in Group J, and will open their campaign by playing Cambodia on Sept 18, and then host Laos (Sept 20) before ending their campaign against Japan two days later.
On paper, Malaysia, who won the 2019 AFF U-15 Championship in Thailand last month, has the capability to do that by at least being one of the five best runners-up from the group stage.
However, Maniam was not about to be too complacent and wants his players to show some quality play according what was planned during their training stint.
“The players need to focus on the three matches ahead, and we cannot take the games against Cambodia and Laos lightly. Both matches are key and must be won with as many goals as possible.
"If we get to win the first two, then the boys will be all charged up for the game against Japan and we know how they (Japan) are at higher level,” he told reporters when met the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) today.
The U-15 also emerged champions in the CFA China International Youth Football Tournament in Haikou City in July, shocking Asian giants Iran 2-0 and North Korea (2-1), before settling for a 1-1 draw against China.
The squad is made up mostly of players from the Mokhtar Dahari Football Academy (AMD).
Maniam urged his players not to be shy of showing individual brilliance even while playing as a tight unit as that could be the edge against a strong team as Japan.
"I always advise them to play as a team and also focus on their respective individual performance… that is important. If we can bring that into our game against Japan, I think we have a chance to win,” he said.
The team, as part of their preparations, recorded two warm up matches wins, 10-0 and 4-0 over the Mongolian U-15 squad in Shah Alam last week.