KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia qualified for the 2020 Asia Football Confederation (AFC) Under-19 Championship final in Uzbekistan, after emerging as Group G winners in the qualifiers in Cambodia.
The national under-18 side topped the group with a full 12 points by keeping a 100% win record, after notching a 1-0 win over Thailand at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh, today.
Despite needing a draw to qualify, Muhammad Umar Hakim Suhar Redzuan’s 84th minute goal firmly secured the team’s ticket to Uzbekistan, next October.
After both teams missed many opportunities to open the score, Muhammad Umar finally broke the deadlock by tapping in Muhammad Azam Azmi Murad’s cross into net.
“I am feel great to score, it is a team effort ... Everyone gave 100% effort to win and we won the match. We are excited to qualify, Malaysia are a great team,” Muhammad Umar said.
The young tigers under the tutelage of Australian Brad Maloney, opened their campaign by defeating the hosts 5-4 on Nov 2, before thrashing Brunei 11-0 on Wednesday and Northern Mariana Islands 10-0 on Friday, while Thailand started off by whacking Brunei 9-0 and a stylish 21-0 win against Northern Mariana Islands.
However, Thailand’s shocking 2-1 setback against hosts Cambodia on Friday gave an advantage to Malaysia.
“The tournament has been great with very difficult games and circumstances at times, but obviously against Thailand today we want to win. We keep to our principles and style of play, did not sit back and hope for a draw, but we continue the way we play in the whole tournament and the boys have been rewarded for that.
“I am very happy to qualify as the boys have proven their ability. For me, if the players continue to come and shine like this, the future of Malaysian football looks bright,” he said.
A recording of the post-match press conference was made available to Bernama by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM).
From the 48 teams competing in the qualifiers, only 16 teams including the hosts and 11 group champions and four best runners-up (five if Uzbekistan win Group F) will qualify for the final round in Uzbekistan next year.
For record, Malaysia had qualified for the tournament (formerly known as AFC Youth Championship) 23 times since it began in 1959 and in the previous edition in Indonesia last year, Malaysia were knocked out in group stage. - Bernama