Malaysia put up an inspired performance on a wet Thursday evening to oust Thailand and reignite their qualifying hopes in WCQ/ACQ in Group G.
Malaysia only went into the encounter at Bukit Jalil National Stadium with slim hopes because of the contrasting form going into the match from both teams but Tan Cheng Hoe’s boys produced an outstanding come from behind win against the mighty Thais to end a run of two successive defeats in the qualification stage.
Rain poured down at the stadium a good two hours before the kick-off and the slick surface under the lights became the stage of a magnificent Harimau Malaya success that few thought could happen because of the aforementioned circumstances.
For the first time in these qualification matches, Cheng Hoe opted for Syafiq Ahmad to be the man leading the line in place of the vastly experienced Norhsharul Idlan Talaha, gave Syamer Kutty Abba his return back to a starting berth in a competitive match as well as offering Khairulazhan Khalid a start ahead of Farizal Marlias, and to a man, they all repaid his faith in them.
But it was the Thais who struck the first blow in the match when Malaysia’s defence were caught flat-footed when Chanatip Songkrasin ghosted into the box to strike home the opening goal on the night after just seven minutes played. Instead of letting the concession of the first goal bother them, Malaysia held their collective heads and went to work on the Thais.
Syafiq produced the first home shot on target in the 11th minute but it wasn’t strong enough to beat Siwarak Tedsungnoen before the much needed equaliser came in the 24th minute. Syamer found space on the left hand side and his subsequent cross into the box was swept in by Brendan Gan to make it 1-1.
Malaysia held an increased dominance in the match but there was always a danger of Thailand on the counter and they almost did so in the 39th minute. Captain Aidil Zafuan had to produce an incredible tackle on Chanatip inside the box to stop the move.
A move that started from way back when Brendan won the ball back cleanly from Teerasil Dangda before sparking Malaysia into a counter attack that saw the former flicking the ball to Mohamadou Sumareh. The Pahang player was in acres of space and he promptly lashed home Malaysia’s second goal on the night.
Cheng Hoe’s boys held on until the end as they easily kept Thailand at bay with Khairulazhan not needing to make too many stops. The win puts Malaysia on six points after four matches played and will now go into Tuesday’s encounter against bottom-placed side Indonesia fully confident of getting their third win in the campaign.
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