Malaysia had to settle for a point in their opening 2019 SEA Games match after drawing 1-1 with Myanmar on Monday.
Hadi Fayyadh Abdul Radzak headed in Akhyar Rashid's cross in the 24th minute to cancel out Soe Moe Kyaw's opener, which was scored just 12 minutes earlier.
Malaysia Under-22 head coach Ong Kim Swee, who opted to start overseas-based Hadi Fayyadh and Dominic Tan as well as two overaged players in Adam Nor Azlin and Irfan Zakaria for the Group A encounter, found his side second-best in the opening exchanges at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, Manila.
Malaysia goalkeeper Haziq Nadzli spilled a free-kick from Aung Naing Win that fortunately hit the post before he cleared it for a corner, which resulted in Myanmar's opening goal.
The boys in red almost doubled their lead in no time on two occasions, but Haziq did well to deny Myang Kuang Khant and Aung Kaung Mann.
After weathering the early storm, Malaysia found themselves back in the game when Myanmar's attempt to play from the back was intercepted by Akhyar to set up Hadi for the equaliser.
It was then a tale of poor finishing by Malaysia players, who wasted several opportunities to take the lead and also hit the goal frame twice, while needing to deal with Myanmar's run-and-gun style at the same time.
"If we look at our performance today, we failed to control the match well in the first half, but we improved in the second half and saw some positives.
"We need to understand that the first game is always the toughest, and some of my players had not played for a while.
"Despite the difficulty to move the ball in the first half, I believe that we had more chances than Myanmar in the second half," said Ong.
Ong also said that he wanted to see his team to be more clinical in creating chances and scoring goals in the remaining three group matches.
"It is important that we continue to create chances. We must ensure the chances created result in goals, because if not, we might be affected in terms of number of goals scored [in the final group standings]," he added.
A more composed finishing is definitely required from the young boys on Friday when they face a tougher test in the form of host nation Philippines.
In another early men's football kick-off, Vietnam thrashed Brunei 6-0 with Ha Duc Chinh grabbing a hat-trick.