KUALA LUMPUR, June 12 — The 1-2 loss to Bahrain in the 2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers last night will not affect Harimau Malaya’s focus in their final Group E match against Bangladesh at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Tuesday, according to several players.
Striker Muhammad Syafiq Ahmad said as professionals, the players needed to move on from the defeat and be focused on their match against Bangladesh, as they can still qualify for the Asian Cup final round.
“Although we took the lead, a game is not won until the final whistle; that’s football. The important thing is to win our last match, no excuse.
“I don’t care who will be fielded against Bangladesh as the important thing is to win and qualify for the next round,” he told reporters after the match against Bahrain at the National Stadium.
Meanwhile, midfielder Mohamed Syamer Kutty Abba said Malaysia should have beaten Bahrain and the good performance shown in the match must continue in the Bangladesh clash.
“I am proud of my teammates because we fought for 90 minutes and gave everything we had although we knew that the pitch condition was hard for us to play. We have to bounce back and do well in the Bangladesh game.
“As we know that Turkmenistan also just won 2-1 over Bangladesh, there is no easy game and we have to be very focused,” he said.
Defender Matthew Davies said: “We have to win the final game probably by some margin to make it safe for us. It’s just do or die for the last game, and we will give everything to try to make it happen.”
In the match against Bahrain, watched by more than 63,000 spectators, naturalised player Mohamadou Sumareh put Malaysia into the lead in the 55th minute but Ali Abdulla Haram equalised for Bahrain just two minutes later.
Substitute Abdulla Yusuf Helal scored Bahrain’s winning goal in the 81st minute through a penalty kick which was awarded after goalkeeper Mohd Farizal Marlias felled Ali Jaafar Madan while trying to save the situation after failing to catch the ball in the air.
The defeat saw Pan Gon’s squad facing a must-win match against Bangladesh to brighten their chances of ending a 15-year wait to reach the final round of the Asian Cup.
After two matches, Bahrain lead Group E with six points while Malaysia and Turkmenistan are in second and third places respectively with three points and Bangladesh are at the bottom without any points.
Only the group champions and the top five runners-up qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup.