Malaysia’s Ahmad Fakri Saarani (left) and Baddrol Bakhtiar tackle Cambodia’s Lay Raksmey (centre) in their Group A match at the Gelora Bung Karno yesterday. - Picture by HAIRUL ANUAR ABD RAHIM
Perhaps mindful that Indonesia are up next, Malaysia did not press the accelerator in a 4-1 win over Cambodia at the Gelora Bung Karno in Jakarta yesterday to edge closer to the Sea Games football semi-finals.
After opening up a 3-0 lead at half-time, countless chances were missed and Cambodia also breached the Malaysian defence at will in a sign of over-confidence in the team.
Coach Ong Kim Swee acknowledged that Malaysia left too many gaps at times and a better equipped team would have punished the weaknesses at will.
"It's a good result but in the second half we were too casual and were punished. But the important thing is the three points which carry us to the edge of the semi-finals.
"We've still got to get at least one point because as I always said, everything will come down to the final matches," said Kim Swee, who spoke ahead of the crucial Indonesia-Thailand game later yesterday.
Kim Swee made just two changes to the side who defeated Thailand on Wednesday with Yong Kuong Yong getting his Games debut while Izzaq Faris Ramlan getting his first start.
Kuong Yong set Izzaq up for the first goal in the seventh minute before Baddrol Bakhtiar made it 2-0 from the penalty spot two minutes later.
When skipper Baddrol made it 3-0 in the 36th minute, a rout seemed inevitable but Malaysia continued to miss numerous chances with substitute A. Thamil Arasu the main culprit.
Chin Chouen pulled one back on the counter-attack in the 61st minute before Wan Zaharulnizam Wan Zakaria curled in Malaysia's fourth on 90 minutes.
Malaysia play Indonesia on Thursday with not just semi-final qualification but also the Group A top spot up for grabs.
"We created so many chances again, just as we did against Singapore and Thailand. But we've begun to increase our goal tally from zero to two to four now.
"We have three days to come up with strategies for the match against Indonesia but fitness will determine who I field.
"The players played with confidence today (yesterday) and that's a positive sign for the next match," said the coach.