By Admin | Published on : Jan 20, 2018 10:35 pm
KUNSHAN, China - Forward N. Thanabalan scored his first goal of the championship but it was not enough to see Malaysia through to the semi-finals of the AFC Under-23 Championship in Kunshan, China.
In the quarter-final match against South Korea, Thanabalan came on as a substitute for Akhyar Abdul Rashid in the 57th minute and he did not have to wait long to get on the scoresheet when he scored the equaliser in the 67th minute to level the score after the South Koreans had gone ahead just 15 seconds into the match thanks to Cho Jae Wan whose goal is the fastest scored in the championship to date.
However the players’ revival and delight did not last long as Han Seung Gyu scored the South Koreans winning goal in the 85th minute to send the 2016 finalists through to the semi-finals against Uzbekistan on Tuesday.
However for Thanabalan, despite the disappointment, he remains proud of their fighting performance where he and his teammates showed that they are not afraid of anyone.
"We played well in today’s (Saturday) quarter-final match, and there is not much difference between us and our opponents (South Korea), though we have to admit that they were the better team. They have qualified for the World Cup at senior and junior levels.
"But we have proved to everyone that we could play them and give them a run for their money. Yes we are disappointed that we did not win, but I am very proud of our fighting spirit,” he said when met after the match earlier today.
Thanabalan was rested for the second and third group matches against Jordan (1-1) and Saudi Arabia (1-0) respectively following a hamstring injury picked up in the 4-1 loss to Iraq in the first match, and he was raring to go against the South Koreans.
"For this championship I missed out on playing in two matches due to a hamstring injury that I picked up in the match against Iraq.
"However I am thankful to have been given the chance to play against South Korea when I came on in the second half as a substitute, and I would like to thank my fellow teammates, especially Safawi Rasid who unselfishly passed the ball for me to score our solitary goal,” said the Negri Sembilan player.