Malaysia put up gallant fight against China
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