21/11/2023 09:32 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 (Bernama) -- National striker Darren Lok stepped into the role of hero as he scored the only goal that earned Malaysia three vital points in their 1-0 win against Taiwan in second round 2026/2027 Asian Cup qualifiers in Taipei Municipal Stadium tonight.

The Sabah FC player came on as a substitute for Paulo Josue in tonight’s Group D match and rose to the occasion by scoring in the 72nd minute, winning the away match.

National head coach Pan Gon made a total of four changes to the starting eleven that beat Kyrgyzstan 4-3 at Bukit Jalil National Stadium last week, fielding Junior Eldstal, Mohd Afiq Fazail, Paulo Josue and Muhammad Akhyar Abdul Rashid.

An uneven pitch did not help the quality of play, but both teams did their best to settle into their own rhythm in the first half, with winger Mohamad Faisal Abdul Halim wasting a great opportunity to score in the 43rd minute when his attempt hit the post.

The stalemate continued into the second half, until Pan Gon made his substitutions with around half an hour remaining in the match, bringing in Darren and changing Mohd Afiq for Endrick Dos Santos in an effort to shake things up.

Pan Gon’s move paid off when an unmarked Darren pounced on a shoddy deflection from Taiwan’s goalkeeper Pan Wen-Chieh to tuck in the much-awaited goal.

With only 18 minutes left, Taiwan pulled up all the stops, desperate for an equaliser, but the Harimau Malaya squad’s defence was disciplined as they staved off repeated assaults on their goal till the end of the match.

Tonight’s victory is Malaysia’s first away in Taipei after losing their last three matches there in a streak that began in 2000.

Malaysia is now on top of Group D with six points, while Taiwan is last without a single point, with the match between Oman and Kyrgyzstan scheduled to begin at 10 pm tonight.




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