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AFF U23 Championship

AFF U23 Championship: Malaysian forwards have a task at hand against gritty Laos

06:46 GMT 21/02/2022
Laos U23
Harimau Muda need to put their best foot forward to avoid a setback...

Not many had expected Laos to triumph over Malaysia in the ongoing AFF U23 Championship. However, Michael Weiss' men came out on top to stun their opponents 2-1 on Friday afternoon. At the same time, it must be noted that the job is only half done as the decider for a knock-out berth will be played on Monday evening at the Prince Stadium, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

In their previous meeting Phetdavanh Somsanid and co. dug deep in their own half and that frustrated Malaysia. Although they were enjoying the bulk of the possession, they struggled to create clear-cut goal scoring opportunities apart from the one that struck the woodwork in the initial stages of the game. Ultimately, it was a lapse in concentration coupled with careless marking that led to the opener as Selvan Anbualagan sneaked in at the far post to score.

It would not be surprising if Laos sticks to the same strategy in their next meeting as well, given that they have a goal advantage following their second-half double in the first leg. So Anbualagan and Aiman Afif must be more creative in midfield to break the defensive lines of Laos. Moreover, Brad Maloney would like his troops to use the wide areas more effectively as it is likely that Laos would aim to block anything through the middle.

MALAYSIA U23 RECENT RESULTS

Date

Match

Competition

October 25, 2021

Malaysia 1-0 Laos

2022 AFC U23 Asian Cup Qualification

October 28, 2021

Mongolia 0-1 Malaysia

2022 AFC U23 Asian Cup Qualification

October 31, 2021

Thailand 0-0 Malaysia

2022 AFC U23 Asian Cup Qualification

February 18, 2022

Laos 2-1 Malaysia

AFF U23 Championship

All eyes will be on Muhammad Nur who had a decent first half but faded out in the latter stages of the match. He will have to put his best foot forward as the onus will be primarily on him to score the goals. It also remains to be seen if Maloney chooses to start Azhad Arman to add more firepower upfront.

Meanwhile, Laos might not like to be too adventurous as they sit on a comfortable lead. They did well to maintain their defensive shape for most of the first leg and it was evident they are content to sit deep without the ball. But their set-piece defending must improve as they looked vulnerable during dead-ball situations.

Laos U23 RECENT RESULTS

Date

Match

Competition

October 25, 2021

Malaysia 1-0 Laos

2022 AFC U23 Asian Cup Qualification

October 28, 2021

Laos 0-3 Thailand

2022 AFC U23 Asian Cup Qualification

October 31, 2021

Laos 3-2 Mongolia

2022 AFC U23 Asian Cup Qualification

February 18, 2022

Laos 2-1 Malaysia

AFF U23 Championship

If the aggregate score in both the matches ends in a draw, the second match shall go to an extra-time period of 30 minutes. If the scores still remain the same, then it would go to penalties.

Needless to say that Laos would head into the match with their morale boosted given the manner in which they played in the final 20 minutes of the previous match. It now remains to be seen whether Malaysia have it in them to turn around their fortunes.

Group B Table

PositionTeamPWDLFAGDPts
1

Laos

110021+13

2

Malaysia

1

0

0

1

1

2

-1

0