Exclusive Report By Vikneswaran Raman
MANILA, Dec 2 -- Malaysia finally found their winning touch when they beat Timor Leste 4-0 in a Group A men’s football match of the 30th SEA Games at the Rizal Memorial Stadium here tonight.
Coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee fielded two national Under-18 stars, Luqman Hakim Shamsudin and Muhammad Umar Hakeem, in the starting eleven while the place of Muhammad Akhyar Abdul Rashid, who earlier suffered an ankle injury, was filled by Mohamad Faisal Abdul Halim.
Taking to the field with a mission to big win to stay alive, Malaysia began aggressively but it took an own goal by Timor Leste’s Filomeno Junior da Costa for Malaysia to take the lead in the fifth minute.
Japanese J2 League club Fagiano Okayama’s striker Muhammad Hadi Fayyad Abdul Razak then increased the lead when he converted a short pass from Muhammad Syahmi Safari which slipped through the Timor Leste defence in the 34th minute.
The 19-year-old player scored again in the 44th minute, latching onto the ball which bounced off the post following Mohamad Faisal’s attempt.
After the interval, Kim Swee brought in Muhammad Akhyar for Mohamad Faisal.
The Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) player justified his presence by scoring off a beautiful pass from substitute R. Kogisleswaran Raj in the 81st minute to make it 4-0.
Malaysia drew 1-1 with Myanmar on Monday before being shocked by the Philippines 1-0 on Friday, while Timor Leste were whipped 5-0 by Cambodia and 3-1 by Myanmar.
In another Group A match tonight, Myanmar edged Cambodia 2-1 at the Binan Football Stadium to confirm their semi-final spot.
Malaysia can expect a torrid time from Cambodia when they meet on Wednesday as both will be fighting for the second semi-final ticket from the group, but it all depends on the outcome of the Philippines versus Timor Leste match.
With tonight’s win, Malaysia are now in third place on goal difference although they are on equal four points with Cambodia, who are in second spot, while the Philippines are fourth.
Myanmar lead the group on 10 points.