ASC2018: Malaysia off to winning start in AFF Suzuki Cup

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A 30th-minute goal by Norsharul Idlan Talaha gave Malaysia a 1-0 victory over Cambodia in their opening Group A match in the AFF Suzuki Cup at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh on Thursday.

The Pahang striker knocked in his ninth international goal after missing another opportunity in the 22nd minute when he muffed from inside the box, sending his attempt just wide off the right post.

However, he assured Malaysia three points and a clean slate when he plundered an unstoppable header past Cambodia goalkeeper Um Vichet to spoil Cambodia’s National Day celebrations on Friday.

Before Norshahrul’s winner, Malaysian Football League’s Most Valuable Player (MPV) Safawi Rasid hit the right post with Vichet well beaten.

It would have been 2-0 for Malaysia deep into four minutes of added time but Gambian-born naturalized Malaysian Mohamadou Sumareh muffed a sitter on a night when the Harimau Malaya had difficulty adapting to the artificial turf.

Malaysia’s last visit to Phnom Penh was a 3-1 win over Cambodia in an ‘A’ international friendly on Sept 10.

Head coach Tan Cheng Hoe replaced Norshahrul and skipper Zaquan Adha Abdul Radzak midway in the second half and brought in Shahrel Fikri and Ahmad Hazwan Bakri.

Cambodia too had their chances but Reung Bunheng, Chan Vathanaka muffed their chances and found Malaysian goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat in form between the posts.

Malaysia next faces Laos at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Nov 12 before a tough encounter against Vietnam at the My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi on Nov 16 and complete their group fixtures with a home match against Myanmar. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH 

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