KUALA LUMPUR, June 4 – Conceding two goals in injury time summed up Malaysia’s nightmare at the Zabeel Stadium in Dubai as the United Arab Emirates walked away with a 4-0 win in World Cup 2022/Asia Cup 2023 Group G qualifier.
Harimau Malaya put up a pathetic display and let coach Tan Cheng Hoe down when he had expected his charges to be in the thick of things against the Arab nation on a night when the homesters displayed their superiority with 71 percent ball possession.
Despite picking up the ball four times from inside his net, veteran goalkeeper Farizal Marlias deserves credit for fighting a lone battle to keep the scoreline down.
There was nothing he could do to stop the four goals and it was heartbreaking to see the UAE score twice in the 91st and 93rd minutes when the Malaysian backline simply collapsed like a stack of cards.
Ali Mabkhout got his second in the 91st minute while naturalised Brazilian hitman, Fabio Lima completed his brace on 93 minutes.
Ali had opened the scoring for The Whites in the 19th minute when he ran into space before sending a lob over Farizal.
Malaysia wasted a glorious opportunity to equalise in the dying minutes before the break but Guilherme de Paula’s header was without direction.
Fabio’s first came in the 83rd minute with a curling shot into the far corner. That goal took the wind out of Harimau Malaya and with the engine not functioning, it was UAE in firm control of the match.
Cheng Hoe was a figure of frustration on the sidelines as he watched his toothless Tigers ran out of ideas right from the start in a must-win match.
A draw would have salvaged a precious point for Malaysia ranked No 153. For the record, the UAE is ranked No 73.
In another Group G match, Indonesia gave a fighting display to hold Thailand to a 2-2 draw and earn the first point after six matches.
The defeat sent Malaysia plunging to fourth place on goal difference although on the same nine points with the UAE and Thailand. Vietnam leads with 11 points after five matches.
*(Pic credit to FAM Media)

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