Mukhairi Ajmal (centre) in action against Singpaore during the May 14 match in Hanoi. - BERNAMA PIC

Footballers fired up for semi-final against Vietnam

Malaysia seem to be losing steam at the crucial stage of the Sea Games, but captain Mukhairi Ajmal Mahadi, 20, believes his footballers still have plenty to offer in today’s semi-final against Vietnam at the Viet Trì Stadium in Hanoi.

The Young Tigers started their campaign with a 2-1 win over 16-time champions Thailand and followed up with a 3-1 win over Laos, but faltered with a 2-2 draw against Singapore and Cambodia to finish second in Group B.

The odds are stacked against Malaysia but midfielder Mukhairi believes the Young Tigers can surprise Group A winners Vietnam like what they did against the mighty Thais.

“Though we drew our last two matches, our morale is not down. We didn’t lose our matches.

“The coach is satisfied with our performance. Our confidence is growing and we are fired up for the semi-final.”

“I don’t think we were careless in our last two matches, though we dropped points. We actually recovered from a losing position to draw the matches. Our opponents played well and we have to accept it.”

He said the team have been scoring goals, and that is a good sign against Vietnam.

Luqman Hakim Shamsudin, who plays for KV Kortrijk in Belgium, has hit form with three goals from four matches while Japan-based Hadi Fayyadh Abdul Razak, who plays for Azul Claro Numazu, scored a brace in the draw with Cambodia.

Malaysia also have capable forwards in Danial Asri, Syahir Bashah Azfar Fikri Azhar and Faiz Amer Runnizar.

Mukhairi said: “I can see that our goal-scoring touch is back. We have players who can score from anywhere.”

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