Pic credit FAM Media
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 9 – On a day when two more players – Akhyar Rashid and Quentin Cheng were quarantined after testing positive for Covid-19, the Harimau Malaya roared to a 4-0 win over Laos to stay unbeaten in Group B in the AFF Suzuki Cup in Singapore.
It was Malaysia’s second win at the Bishan Stadium, having beaten Cambodia 3-0 in their opening match.
Malaysia’s remaining two matches in the group are against Vietnam on Sunday (Dec 12) and Indonesia on Dec 19.
The day belonged to Safawi Rasid who notched a hattrick – with the first two doses coming in the first half and completed his booster shot with Malaysia’s fourth in the 78th minute. Defender Shahrul Saad scored the third.
Head coach Tan Cheng Hoe made several changes to his starting lineup for the Cambodia bench. Naturalized Malaysian Guilherme De Paul started from the bench. Also missing was Junior Eldstal and Akhyar Rashid.
Brazilian-born De Paula did come on in the last 10 minutes of play, replacing Safawi.
R. Kogileswaran came on for Luqman and Shahrul replaced skipper Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak.
Laos looked threatening in the first five minutes but once Safawi got his first on seven minutes it cooled the Malaysian nerves.
Safawi, was at the right place near the far post to tap in a cross from Arif Aiman on the left.
Luqman Hakim Shamsuddin was also in scoring position but the Belgium-based player missed connecting and Safawi made it count.
It was 2-0 for Malaysia in the 34th minute. Arif was again in the provider when his corner kick to the far post saw Safawi rise high to send a dipping header into the Laos net – catching goalkeeper Oudone Sovanasasangso off guard.
Laos, coached by Singapore V. Selvaraj, but their early firepower fizzled out after Malaysia’s first goal. Once the Harimau Malaya got the first goal and got into stride in their game, it also brought confidence to the team.
Shahrul, who had a long layoff due to a knee injury, was a mobbed by his teammates when he scored Malaysia’s third goal in the 78th minute when he raced up front to receive Baddrol Bakhtiar’s long ball. The former Perak player who now plays for JDT, fired a grounder into the Laos net and Oudone was outdone again.
Safawi completed his hattrick two minutes later – finishing off a long ball from Kogileswaran with a left footer. Malaysia 4-0 and now for Vietnam on Sunday.
In another Group B match played at the same venue. Indonesia defeated Cambodia 4-2.

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