SHAH ALAM (AFP) – Malaysia’s coach said goalkeeper Haziq Nadzli had a “bright future” despite his game-deciding own goal in the Southeast Asian Games football final – which mirrored a similar mistake in the same fixture, and the same stadium, 16 years ago.
Ong Kim Swee said Haziq, 19, would learn from his mistake late on Tuesday, when he punched a corner into his own net in the 39th minute to gift Thailand the under-22s title 1-0.
The error stunned the capacity crowd at the 80,000-seat Shah Alam Stadium, which included Malaysia’s prime minister and sports minister, its football chief and the state sultan.
It had particular resonance for Malaysians who remember the 2001 final in Shah Alam, when goalkeeper Kamarulzaman Hassan also deflected a cross into his own net as Thailand won 1-0.
Kamarulzaman never wore the Malaysia shirt again, but Ong played down Haziq’s mistake and said the young Johor Darul Ta’zim ‘keeper had much to look forward to in his career.
“Of course it’s not easy for him to concede that type of goal, but it happens to anybody. You can’t blame him,” said the coach.
“At the same time, he’s a very young goalkeeper, he has a bright future. He has to take this away and take it as a very good learning process.”
For the final, Malaysia were without their chant-leading Ultras fans, who had been ever-present during the competition but who boycotted Tuesday’s game over a ticketing row.
Ong said the Ultras’ absence hit his team hard as it affected the atmosphere in the stadium, where Thailand’s small group of fans, led by drummers, were highly audible.
“I don’t know what’s wrong. It’s like the boys have been punished,” said Ong.
“But at the end of course we have other fans who are here to support us so I hope that whatever it is, let’s think about the future of our football, let’s think how to support these young players.”