KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 12 – Malaysia’s injury list continued to grow as defending champions Vietnam crushed Malaysia 3-0 in a Group B AFF Suzuki Cup match at the Bishan Stadium in Singapore on Sunday.
It was Malaysia’s first defeat in three matches after winning 3-1 over Cambodia and Laos 4-0 in their first two matches.
The defeat also plunged Malaysia to third place in the group from the top spot.
Despite the defeat, Malaysia’s hopes of reaching the semi-finals in the Asean meet are very much alive but face a mammoth task and will have to beat Indonesia in their final group match on Dec 19. In an earlier match Indonesia hammered Laos 5-1.
Already depleted with four positive Covid-19 cases in the team which “knocked” out Khairul Azhan Khalid, Faisal Halim (who have since completed their 10-day quarantine on Saturday, Dec 11), Quentin Cheng and Akhyar Rashid (still under quarantine), there was more bad news for coach Tan Cheng Hoe.
Skipper Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak and Shahrul Saad left gaping holes in the backline when they had to leave the match against Vietnam with injuries.
Aidil lasted on 21 minutes and was replaced by Dominic Tan while Shahrul went out after 70 minutes.
After the break, Cheng Hoe replaced Luqman Hakim Shamsuddin with Guilherme De Paula and R. Kogileswaran came in for Mukhairi Ajmal.
The changes brought some changes in Malaysia’s overall performance compared to the first half.
Vietnam scored two quick goals when Nguyen Quang Hai netted the first after 32 minutes. Four minutes later the score line read 2-0 for Vietnam when Nguyen Cong Phuong fired a blistering shot past Khairul Fahmi Che Mat.
In the 89th minute Vietnam hammered the final nail into the coffin – this time it was Nguyen Huang Duc drilled home a stiff grounder after finding gap in the Malaysian defense.
“We were focused in the first half and paid heavy price,” said Cheng Hoe after the match, adding the team has a week to rest before the next match.
“Hopefully, the injuries to Aidil and Shahrul are not serious. At the same time we hope that those under quarantine for the virus will be given the greenlight to play.”

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