Malaysia keen to avoid another loss to PNG in build up to AFF Cup

Malaysia boss Datuk Ong Kim Swee underlined the importance of winning their final AFF Cup friendly match before the regional showcase begins next weekend.

The Malaysians face Papua New Guinea (PNG) at Shah Alam Stadium on Monday before their opener against Cambodia in Yangon on Sunday.

"We want to win, as it will be our final warm-up game before leaving for Myanmar. It will give the boys great confidence going into our AFF Cup opener against Cambodia," Ong said at the pre-match media conference on Sunday.

"We will try to rectify our weaknesses in this final game."

Ong was also refusing to take Papua lightly, even though the Oceania nation were thrashed 8-1 by Iran in a friendly on Thursday.

"Papua won't be easy opponents, even though they lost heavily to Iran," Ong said. "This will be a chance to put whatever we have practiced into use."

Malaysia will need to heavily improve on their firepower ahead of PNG, who beat them 2-0 on home soil in June.

Since that loss, they had only scored four times, with the last goal coming against Afghanistan through Hadin Azman in the 1-1 home draw on Oct. 11.

Malaysia defeated New Caledonia 2-1 after Papua, followed by a 1-1 draw against Fiji.

A 3-0 loss to Indonesia ensued in September before the goalless draw away to Singapore on Oct. 7.

Those poor showings led to plenty of criticism, which the former Harimau Muda mentor has already become accustomed to.

"I have been facing adversities since day one, so I am not worried about them. I will take it as motivation to do well, and so are the players. We all want a great AFF Cup campaign for the country," said Ong, who will do without the injured Nasir Basharuddin and Ahmad Khuzaimi Piee against PNG.

Malaysia leave for Yangon on Oct. 16. After their Group B opener against Cambodia on Sunday, they will face Vietnam (Nov. 23) and co-hosts Myanmar (Nov. 26).