NAYPYITAW - National Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee wants his boys to beat Singapore on Saturday and return home with the bronze medal.
Malaysia, who lost 4-3 on penalties (1-1 after extra-time) to Indonesia in the semi-finals on Thursday, will face the Singaporeans in the bronze medal playoff at the Zeyar Thiri Stadium in Naypyitaw.
"We may have failed to defend our gold medal but I want the boys to exit the competition with their heads held high by winning the bronze medal," said Kim Swee after training on Friday.
"We need to forget about the defeat (to Indonesia) and move forward ... we have a squad of young players and most of them are still eligible to play in the next SEA Games."
It won't be easy though against Singapore because Kim Swee will be without left wing Ashri Chuchu and hardworking midfielder Nasir Basharuddin through injury. He will also find it hard to motivate the others, who will have to shrug off fatigue following the tiring loss to Indonesia.
"Ashri is out with a hamstring injury while Nasir complained of pain in his chest and knee ... these two might not play tomorrow.
Kim Swee, whose team drew 1-1 with Singapore in a Group A match, admitted that "both teams know each other very well" and that "the one who make the least mistakes will win".
"We know that Singapore are good at set pieces and we need to be careful not to give away free kicks near our area," said Kim Swee, who was involved in a touchline spat with Singapore assistant coach Harald Irmscher during the group match.
"Touchline arguments are normal in football ... as far as I'm concerned, the spat between me and the Singapore coaching staff is over."