Malaysia recently wrapped up their 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup campaign but fell short of their goal as they finished as runners-up behind eventual winners Vietnam.
However, the Malayan Tigers did well for themselves and should have a lot to be proud about – and here we take a look at three positive things the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup runners-up should bring home from the competition.
BACK IN THE KNOCKOUT STAGES
Considered as one of the constant contenders in the competition, 2016 ended up as a big disappointment for the Malayan Tigers as they failed to make the knockout stages.
Despite only winning one AFF Suzuki Cup, the Malaysians have only failed to make it through the next round twice before 2016.
After winning in 2010, they were semifinalists in 2012 and second place two years after that.
For 2018, they’ve erased the bitter memory of an early 2016 exit and have proven they’re worthy of being finalists.
A YOUNG CORE THAT WILL STILL IMPROVE
Malaysia brought in a strong team to the AFF Suzuki Cup, mixing the perfect blend of experience and youth.
This turned out to be a great thing for them as players like Mohamadou Sumareh, Syazwan Andik and Shahrul Saad are still in the early stages of their careers but have shown they can perform under the brightest stages.
At the very least, this core would still be intact in the next AFF Suzuki Cup and they now have experience to backup another potentially deep run in the competition.
VETERANS PROVE THEY CAN STILL DO IT
Outside of the young core, Malaysia’s stalwarts have also proven to still have what it takes as they have been leaders throughout the competition.
Skipper Zaquan Adha is 31 years old but has been a key piece in the cog that helped them reach the finals of the competition.
Norshahrul Idlan is another player who is in his early 30s but performed well in the AFF Suzuki Cup. With five goals to his name, he is the second-best scorer in the competition only behind Thailand’s Adisak Kraisorn who had eight goals.
They still have what it takes to compete against the younger opponents and may still have a lot to show in the next competition.