BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Malaysia fell to a shock 1-0 defeat to hosts Laos in their Group J 2020 AFC U-16 Championship qualification match on Friday.
In the matchday two encounter that was held at the National Stadium, Vientiane, Lavi Somthongkham's fourth-minute goal was all it took to take the wind out of the sail of the team that have beaten the likes of Iran, North Korea and Australia this year. More embarrassingly, Maniam Pachaiappan's charges, who started the match without four players who helped them thump Cambodia 7-0 on matchday one, ended the match with 10 players, after Alif Farhan Fauzi was shown his second yellow late in the match.
The result has placed Malaysia in the third spot, needing nothing less than a win over defending champions Japan in their final group encounter this Sunday, in order to secure a spot in the finals.
Speaking in the post-match press conference, Maniam said that the defeat was partly caused by that fact that his charges were still recovering from a fever picked up upon their arrival in Vientiane.
"We started a bit loose, we did not mark the opposition properly, and they punished us with the goal. Afterwards we tried to come back... but our final passes were not there.
"And I'd like to remind everyone that my players just recovered from a fever these past few days. This was our best available first eleven, they were struggling but they still gave their best.
"We now have Japan to play next. The players need to focus more as we cannot let our country down, and we have to be on our best against them," said the former Selangor coach.
Follow Goal Malaysia's Instagram account!