KUALA LUMPUR, June 12 – It was a touching emotional scene when newly naturalised Malaysian Guilherme De Paula scored from the spot on 72 minutes for Malaysia to equalise 1-1 against Vietnam in a Group G match of the World Cup 2022/Asia Cup 2023 qualifiers.
The Brazilian earned the penalty when he was pulled down inside the penalty box by Doan Van Hau after Vietnam had gone ahead with Nguyen Tien Linh’s headed goal off a corner kick in the 27th minute.
Just when the Malaysians got their rhythm and looked good for a draw, Japanese referee Ryuji Sato blew for a spot-kick for Vietnam when he judged that Brendan Gan had fouled Nguyen Van Toan inside the box and this was in the 82nd minute.
Que Ngoc Hai scored from the spot for his team to regain the lead and Vietnam walked away with a 2-1 win to stay on top of the group with 17 points from seven matches.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), 5-0 winners over Indonesia is second on 15 points followed by Thailand, ahead of Malaysia on goal difference with nine points each.
Vietnam and the UAE will battle for the top for the third-round slot in the World Cup qualifiers.
Malaysia faces Thailand on Tuesday with hopes of making the third round (qualifier) for the Asian Cup Finals.
Guilherme’s goal sent emotions high as the Brazilian ran to the Malaysia bench and hugged chief coach Tan Cheng Hoe.
The Brazilian, who came in for a lot of flak in Malaysia’s 4-0 defeat to the UAE, was emotional because of the trust placed on him by the coach although  football fans and critics had called for him to be replaced.
On the other hand, Cheng Hoe got news of his father’s death hours before the match. Tan Chooi Siak, 95, died of old age in Alor Setar.
Cheng Hoe has decided to stay back with the team in Dubai due to the tight SOPs in place for the Covid-19 pandemic which includes quarantine.
It was a better performance by the Malayan Tigers in the match against Vietnam but it could have been better with a little more effort.
Cheng Hoe, at the post-match press conference, said he is not going to blame anyone for the defeat to Vietnam.
”Football is a team game. We win as a team and we lose as a team. We have another match on Tuesday.  Let us work towards a positive result against Thailand in the next match,” said Cheng Hoe.
For the record, Malaysia beat Thailand 2-1 in the first round in Kuala Lumpur.

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