A relieved Tony Vidmar admits the pressure is now off his Joeys after they booked a spot at next year’s FIFA Under-17 World Cup on Sunday night.
In a tense quarter-final at the AFC Under-16 Championships in Thailand, the Joeys came from a goal down to win 2-1 thanks to goals from Cameron Joice and Daniel Maskin.
The result not only puts the Joeys into the last four of the tournament but also secures a place at the 2015 World Cup in Chile.
And coach Vidmar hopes the achievement will now release the shackles ahead of Wednesday’s semi-finals.
"The goal was to reach the World Cup playing good, attacking-based possession football," a proud Vidmar told the AFC website.
"We still have a lot to learn and can be naïve, but we have 12 months of preparation for the World Cup now.
"I think we have less pressure going into the semis. We can try and play our game with no pressure and expectations."
The Joeys were stunned by an early Kogileswaran Raj goal but remained composed to draw level through Joice before the break before Maskin netted the winner with 15 minutes left.
Vidmar admitted he hasn’t been happy with the level of performance from his side throughout the tournament but praised his side’s character in what was stifling heat at the Muangthong Stadium.
"We knew what to expect from Malaysia, that they would let us have possession and not press us," added Vidmar, whose side has won all four matches at the tournament so far.
"We improved in bits and pieces from the Japan game and at times kept possession well, but we also turned it over too cheaply at times and made unforced errors which gave them chances.
"We struggled with the heat in the first half. I felt it was the hottest it's been yet."