Safawi Rasid, Matt Davies rehearsed Malaysia SEA Games wonder goal
In-form Safawi Rasid feels he has a lot more to offer Malaysia ahead of the Causeway showdown against Singapore on Wednesday night after shining in the 2-1 victory over Brunei to open their Southeast (SEA) Asian Games' campaign.
The Johor Darul Ta'zim flyer was a constant thorn in the Brunei defence, starting with a sumptuous volley to give the hosts a fourth-minute lead in the Group A game on Monday.
He also hit the bar from a free kick, and came close with a few other attempts on goal. Even so, he wasn't entirely satisfied with his performance.
"I have to do more against Singapore, surely. Despite scoring and having shots on goal, I lost the ball a couple of times," Safawi told ESPN FC.
"I need to work on that aspect in the next game. Overall, I am glad we came away with three points. We had chances to score more, but managed to get two goals which proved enough in the end."
Safawi's combination with Pahang captain Matthew Davies was one of the highlights of the match, with the diminutive player on the receiving of some delicious deliveries from the Australian-born full-back.
The 20-year-old revealed that the combination was repeatedly practised at national team training.
"We have been practicing that every day in training, to get our movement and timing spot on," he said.
"I am glad it paid off. I think the goal was also one of the best I had scored so far because of the difficult technique to execute."
Malaysia head into the Singapore showdown as favourites for three points against a side lacking in confidence.
Richard Tardy's men played second fiddle to Myanmar in the earlier Group A game on Monday, and will need to drastically improve in their bid to make it out of the group stage.
But Malaysia cannot take anything for granted, especially on home ground where more fans are expected to flock the Shah Alam Stadium to expect victory.
After failing to make it out of the group stages in Singapore at the last edition, the pressure is on for Datuk Ong Kim Swee to deliver gold this time around.
But the coach, who led the team to glory in 2011, is buoyed by the fact that his players overcame adversity to qualify for the AFC U23 Championship in China next year after topping their qualifiers in Bangkok last month.
Nicolas Anil is a former Malay Mail and Goal.com Malaysia editor/writer who appears on BFM Radio as a football analyst. Twitter: @nicolas_anil.