Malaysia thrashed Timor Leste 11-0 in their opening Group A match at the national Sports Complex main stadium in Vientiane this afternoon.
Thailand and Vietnam in the later match, played to a 1-1 draw.
The Malaysian Under-23 team certainly did not allow the slight snag in their departure to Laos on Monday, when they flight was aborted because late clearance of landing rights for their Air Force plane, to dampen their spirits. They only departed yesterday morning and had one training session at the Stadium later in the afternoon.
While it is a morale boosting win, the players will have to keep their feet firm on the ground, because the battle has yet to begin. Timor Leste are no soccer powers in the region and a big score against them is nothing to shout about.
Malaysia play Vietnam next on Dec 6 (Sunday) and at worst they need at least to hold them to a draw. A loss will put Malaysia in a very difficult position to make the semifinals.
The three days rest before Malaysia play their next match should also be tread with caution. While it gives the players an opportunity to watch their opponents in action, they should not be over rested.
Team coach K. Rajagobal, will surely be conducting a few good workouts before they play next, to keep the players in the best condition possible for their match against Cambodia.
Next they play Cambodia on Dec 8 (Tuesday) and a win will virtually see Malaysia have one leg in the semifinals, provided they had held Vietnam, in their earlier match. But again, they cannot take anything for granted against Cambodia.
The final match will be on Dec 11 (Friday) against Sea Games gold medalist Thailand who will be going for their record ninth title under former Perak coach Steve Darby.
Malaysia should seal their semifinals berth before that or can virtually kiss their semifinals berth goodbye.
Thailand play Cambodia on Friday, while Vietnam take on Timor Leste. Friday's results will give a clearer picture of Malaysia's requirements to make the semifinals.
Singapore, Indonesia, hosts Laos and Myanmar are in Group B and open their campaign on Saturday.