BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Despite their apparent wastefulness, Malaysia's ability to dominate possession against the more-fancied Thailand in their first-leg semi-final 2018 AFF Championship match on Saturday drew the praise of many.
The match at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium ended goalless, but the Harimau Malaya recorded a whopping 63.2 per cent of possession, according to official data.
Malaysia vs Thailand match highlights
But if there are those who wonder if Malaysia's superior possession only happened because the War Elephants allowed them to have the ball, they'll be glad to know that the notion was negated by Thailand head coach Milovan Rajevac himself.
"Malaysia played very well," said the Serbian in the post-match press conference. "They ran a lot and gave 120 per cent today.
"We never planned to be that defensive. Malaysia were very motivated, aggressive, they attacked a lot and wanted to score. That, and the atmosphere as well as the pitch, caused us to perform slightly below par.
"We also planned to score at least one goal, but we lacked the concentration and freshness in the attack. However, I'm confident we'll perform better in the next match."
But all the difficulties in the encounter were a part of the learning process for the side, according to the 64-year old trainer.
"It's important for the players that we learn to play the same way even when we play away. When you look at the teams here (Southeast Asia), most of them play differently at home and away.
"It's not easy, but our goal is to ensure that we can play away games the same way we play at home," he remarked through an interpreter.
The second leg in Bangkok will be played on Wednesday, December 5, 7.00 pm Malaysian time.
Keep updated on the 2018 AFF Championship!
- Malaysia news
- Tournament news
- Team profiles
- Fixtures and television schedule
- Malaysia photo gallery
- Tournament gallery
Follow Goal Malaysia 's Instagram account to see photos and watch videos from the AFF Championship!