KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 – Malaysia kickstarted their AFF Suzuki Cup campaign with a 3-1 win over Cambodia in a Group B match at the Bishan Stadium in Singapore on Monday – a morale boosting win for the Harimau Malaya that had two players in quarantine after tested positive for Covid-19.
With no centralised training for the full squad, national football coach Tan Cheng Hoe, got his wish for a win as it will serve well for the team for their next match against Laos on Thursday.
Akhyar Rashid, whose selection for national duty was questioned by netizens, turned out to be the Man of the Match – having a hand in the first goal when he earned a penalty and scored Malaysia’s second.
The Kedahan, who plays for Johor Darul Takzim in the Malaysian League, was felled inside the box by defender Ken Chansopheak and referee Alhunfush Shukri Hussain of Saudi Arabia pointed to the spot.
Safawi Rasid made no mistake from the spot to give Malaysia the lead in the 23rd minute. However, the gritty Cambodians, who had better ball possession, gave the Malaysian backline built around skipper Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak a tough time.
Veteran Malaysian goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat was also in is element to keep the Cambodians at bay, especially Chan Vathana and Keo Sokpheng.
In the 79th minute Malaysia were 3-0 up and it was the turn of the substitutes to add spark.
Belgium-based Luqman Shamsuddin worked his way up on the right before crossing the ball for another substitute R. Kogileswaran to put the finishing touches with a first timer.
Cambodia scored a consolation goal late in the game through Sath Rosib after Khairul Fahmi was penalised for an infringement on the Cambodian.
He was also booked for lifting his leg too high. Sath picked himself up to score in the 90th minute.
Questions were also asked why Junior Eldstal, who plays for Chonburi FC in the Thai League, was substituted after only 25 minutes and replaced by Mukhairi Ajmal. Cheng Hoe said it was more of a tactical change for the match.
”Good start to our campaign but there are several weaknesses to be ironed. Hopefully, we will progress as the tournament goes,” said Cheng Hoe.
Meanwhile, in another Group B match, defending champions Vietnam defeated Laos 2-0 at the same venue.

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