National Sports Council (NSC) director-general Datuk Zolkples Embong described the action of the men's football team to manhandle match officials after their 1-3 loss to Vietnam, as a disgrace to the country.
He added that the reason offered by head coach K. Rajagobal that the incident was triggered by bias and controversial decisions made by the referee against Malaysia, cannot be accepted. And, surely many fans would be upset with that "childish" behavior of the players.
"To me, the referee was fair and indeed a number of decisions made by him favoured the Malaysian team," said Zolkples who was among those who watched the match on Sunday.
The duty of any coach is not only to prepare the team tactically but also to teach his or her players that the referees decision is final.
In the match held at the Main Stadium of the Laos National Sports Complex, Malaysia lost 1-3 to Vietnam, a result that put Malaysian semifinal hopes on tender hooks.
According to Bernama, when South Korean referee Kim Jong Hyeok blew the final whistle, some of the Malaysian players charged at the referee to register their protest after the South Korean had dismissed substitute Mohd Zaquan Adha Abd Radzak for a second bookable offence.
Players had also retorted to throwing water bottles aimlessly at the match official before security officials from Laos intervened and prevented the situation from getting out of hand.
Zolkples also blamed all the Malaysian team officials for further provoking the players, with the exception of Tan Cheng Hoe (coach) who sat calm on the bench.
He added that Malaysia should have just accepted the result because the Vietnam players played better as they were fitter and faster.
"From my observation, our players played below their capabilities and paid too much respect to their opponent," he said.