Malaysia's Gary Steven Robbat (left) challenging a Thailand player in the Group B football match at the SEA Games on Thursday. - IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/ The STAR
SINGAPORE: Midfielder Gary Steven Robbat’s five-year wait for SEA Games action has ended up being a damp squib.
The national Under-23 team’s 1-0 loss to Thailand in their third Group B match on Thursday has dashed their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals.
This, together with the embarrassing 5-1 defeat by Vietnam in their second match on Tuesday, means Malaysia will miss out on the semi-finals for the first time in eight years.
The 23-year-old Gary, who missed the 2011 (Jakarta) and 2013 (Myanmar) SEA Games through injuries, is clearly disappointed that his first and last appearance in the biennial Games has come to such a pitiful end.
The tenacious midfielder, who skippered the team against Thailand, admitted that their fortunes would have been different if he had taken his chance well in front of goal.
“I had a golden chance to score but I was slow to react. I could only toe-poke it but it was not good enough. If I only had the pace, we would still be alive in the competition,” said Gary, who plays for Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) in the Super League.
“We’re still in a daze and struggling to accept that we won’t be in the semi-finals ... but that’s football.
“I must admit that the other teams were better than us this time ... that’s something we have to accept.”
Malaysia, who edged Timor Leste 1-0 in their opening match, are fourth in the group with three points from three matches. Their remaining matches are against Brunei (Monday) and Laos (Thursday).
The two matches are of no significance because fancied Thailand and Vietnam are virtually in the semi-finals from Group B.
“The least we can do is to wrap up our campaign by winning our last two matches. It might be pointless, but we need to salvage our pride,” said Gary.
The Star Online