Malaysia put up gal­lant fight against China

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MALAYSIA put up a brave show to hold China 1-1 in their open­ing Un­der-23 Dubai Cup foot­ball match at Po­lice Sta­dium in UAE on Mon­day.

The windy con­di­tions made it dif­fi­cult for coach Frank Bernhardt’s side to con­tain China and they were forced to be on the de­fen­sive be­fore the breather.

Yao Jun Sheng put China ahead from the penalty spot in the 68th minute be­fore Fel­cra striker N. Than­a­balan scored a dra­matic fi­nal minute goal to earn a point.

It was Than­a­balan’s first goal for the na­tional youth team since net­ting one in the 4-1 win over the Philip­pines last March.

Bernhardt fielded goal­keeper Ah­mad Sy­i­han Hazmi, Adib Zain­ud­din, Syazwan Andik Ishak, Afif Fadzi­lah Abu Bakar, Syahmi Sa­fari, Ir­fan Zakaria, Ah­mad Khairil Anuar, Syazwan Zaipol Ba­hari, Adam Nor Azlin, Syafiq Ah­mad and Than­a­balan.

“It was a match of two halves. In the first half, we played against re­ally strong wind and it forced us to drop deep into de­fence.

“Af­ter the breather, we dom­i­nated as we had the wind on our side. China de­pended on counter-at­tacks.

“We had chances for one or two more goals but I think the 1-1 re­sult is good for us. We hope to build on and do bet­ter in the next match,” said Bernhardt yes­ter­day.

The Ger­man coach’s po­si­tion is also un­der threat as the change in the FA of Malaysia (FAM) lead­er­ship, which will be de­cided in the as­so­ci­a­tion’s elec­tion on Satur­day, could see him be­ing re­moved five months be­fore the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games.

In other matches on Mon­day, Jor­dan de­feated Sin­ga­pore 2-0 while Thai­land up­set UAE 2-1.

Malaysia will face reign­ing Sea Games cham­pion Thai­land on Thurs­day. By Ajitpal Singh

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