A never-say-die attitude and fighting spirit were the main contributors behind Malaysia's 2-1 victory over Thailand in the Group G of the 2022 FIFA World Cup/2023 AFC Asia Cup qualifier match last night, said national team head coach Tan Cheng Hoe.
He also praised his charges for delivering one of their best results this year against the War Elephants, who were ranked 109th in the world, at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.
The Harimau Malaya, despite being stunned by Thailand talisman Chanathip Songkrasin's seventh-minute goal, made an impressive comeback through goals scored by Brendan Gan in the 26th minute and Mohamadou Sumareh in the 56th minute.
It was Malaysia's second win in Group G, after edging Indonesia 3-2 in the opening match, followed by narrow defeats against the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam.
"All the players were fantastic; it was not easy as we know that Thailand fielded a strong team.
"But our players showed a fighting spirit and never-say-die attitude, that is the most important thing for us to gain a well as deserved three points.
"Even though we conceded an early goal, all players showed a united front and formidable fighting spirit to reach the turning point with Brendan's goal.
"Our journey in the qualifying round is only halfway through as we have four more matches to play.
"Hence we will use this win [against Thailand] as our motivation to create more positive results in our next matches," he said in a post-match press conference.
Apart from Gan, Cheng Hoe also praised young midfielder Syamer Kutty Abba for displaying a commendable performance in the game after being given a chance to prove his worth.
Meanwhile, Thailand coach Akira Nishino blamed his team's lack of determination to net the second goal as the reason for the defeat against Malaysia.
"We know that this is a tough group, so we will focus on our recovery and determined to get better in next match," the Japanese coach said.
Vietnam are now at the top of the group with 10 points after four matches, followed by Thailand (seven points), UAE (six), Malaysia (six) and Indonesia (zero).