Brad’s bunch get a Deer lesson in first test

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Under-23 team coach Brad Maloney has two more friendlies to get his side firing on all cylinders before they start their AFC qualifiers in Mongolia on Oct-25-31.

His charges were edged 1-2 by Premier League champions Negri Sembilan in a friendly at the Subang Jaya City Council Stadium but Maloney wants them to maintain their positive attributes from the game and fix their shortcomings for the upcoming matches against Super League sides Penang tomorrow and Kedah on Monday.

Malaysia did well in the first half, creating several good chances with one of them resulting in Azhad Harraz Azman beating Negri goalkeeper Damien Lim in the 11th minute.

The Deer bounced back in the second half with Alain Akono’s equaliser in the 45th minute and R. Barathkumar’s winner in the 81st to seal Negri’s fightback.

Maloney said that they expected a tough fight and was pleased that the players learned a lot from the match.

“This group of players were just recently assembled and we were expecting a tough fight from Negri who are the Premier League champions,” he said.

“We benefited a lot from the game although we didn’t win. There’s a lot of positives to take from it.

“We started well and controlled the first half. In the second half, we lost our momentum and this is something that we need to fix.”

For the AFC U-23 qualifiers, Malaysia have been drawn in Group J and will meet Laos (Oct 25), Mongolia (Oct 28) and Thailand (Oct 31) in a bid to earn a spot in the 2022 Asian Cup U-23 Finals in Uzbekistan next June.

The team will leave for Mongolia on Oct 20.