SHAH ALAM – The SEA Games squad finally got their act right as they recorded a convincing 3-1 win over Myanmar in their penultimate 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games Group A match at the Shah Alam Stadium.
Last night, strikers N. Thanabalan brace in the 33rd and 82nd minute as Safawi Rasid 35th minute gave Datuk Ong Kim Swee’s men their deserved victory in front of 80,000 capacity crowd.
Myanmar’s consolation came from striker Than Paing in the 86th minute.
Despite the loss, Myanmar still top Group A with nine points ending their Group A campaign, while Malaysia, who are second with nine points, will have their chance to top the group when they take on Laos on Wednesday.
Kim Swee made three changes to the line-up which beat Singapore 2-1 last Wednesday, bringing in striker N. Thanabalan, left winger Muhamad Syazwan Andik Mohd Ishak and midfielder Mohd Nor Azam Abdul Azih.
The trio replaced striker Syahmi Safari, midfielder Mohd Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik and winger Muhammad Arif Farhan Mohd Isa.
Kim Swee said his side can beat any team if they keep to their game plan after beating Myanmar.
“We prepared well for this match and all the players were working hard for the team,” said Kim Swee in the post match press conference.
“The team has the potential. We are very disciplined but in the early two games we struggled because we didn’t play to our game plan.”
Meanwhile, Myanmar coach Gerd Ziese slammed his players for the defeat.
“It was a very disappointing first half because most players took the match easy because we have qualified to the semi-finals,” said the German coach.
“It’s a shame that the Myanmar people had to see their performance in the first half. We have a few more days to recover and I’ll talk to some of the players.”
The opening opening 30 minutes proved to be a cagey affair as both team pushed hard to break the deadlock before the floodgate opened three minutes later.
Thanabalan opened the scoring as he pounced on a rebound from Matthew Davies’ initial shot to tuck in from the close range past Myanmar goalkeeper Si Thu Aung in the 33rd minute.
Two minutes later Safawi doubled Malaysia’s lead as he powered a header thanks to S.Kumaahran cross.
The Malaysians then held on two their lead to the first half break.
Myanmar doubled their effort to get back into the game after the restart but Malaysia tightened up their game and held on to the lead.
Subsitute striker Shwe Ko came close to claw his side back into the game but Malaysian goalkeeper Muhammad Haziq Nadzli bettered him in the one-on-one situation in the 76th minute.
Thanabalan helped himself to a brace and put the game beyond Myanmar as he fired a diving header from subsitute Jafri Firdaus Chew in the 82nd minute.
Myanmar however showed that they still had fight in them as Aung Thu pounced on centreback Adib Zainudin short back pass and hand it on platter for Than Paing to finish in the 86th minute.
Stunned by the goal, Malaysia quickly regrouped and held on to their lead for the 3-1 win. – The Star Online