Ho­dak’s boys march into fi­nal

New Straits Times - - Sport - Ajitpal Singh

NO­BODY gave Malaysia a chance, but Bo­jan Ho­dak’s side de­fied the odds to reach the fi­nal of the AFF Un­der-18 Cham­pi­onship at Thuwunna Sta­dium in Yangon yes­ter­day.

Fol­low­ing a tight 0-0 draw in reg­u­la­tion time, Malaysia re­mained com­posed as they edged Myan­mar 5-4 on penalty kicks to make their first ap­pear­ance in 10 years in the fi­nal of the tour­na­ment.

Malaysia have never won the tour­na­ment, fin­ish­ing sec­ond on four oc­ca­sions.

Malaysia will play last year’s run­ners-up Thai­land, who beat In­done­sia 3-2 on penalty kicks, in the fi­nal to­mor­row.

“We only as­sem­bled two weeks be­fore the tour­na­ment, and today we have reached the fi­nal,” said a de­lighted Ho­dak.

“What a day for us. It was dif­fi­cult play­ing in front of a packed sta­dium, but my boys played with­out pres­sure for the win.”

Ho­dak’s boys and Myan­mar played en­ter­pris­ing foot­ball through­out the 90 min­utes with both teams hav­ing de­cent chances to score goals.

Goal­keeper Azri Abd Ghani de­nied Myan­mar their sec­ond at­tempt from the spot but Am­mar Akhmall Alias failed to con­vert Malaysia’s fifth spot kick to force the penalty shoot-out into sud­den-death.

Azri saved Myan­mar’s sixth at­tempt, while cap­tain Syai­ful Alias net­ted from the spot to send Malaysia into the fi­nal.

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