Massive win for Harimau Malaya

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Malaysia hammered Timor Leste 7-1 in the first-leg to kickstart their 2022 World Cup journey on a positive note at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Friday.

The return-leg will also be played at the same venue on Tuesday and national football coach Tan Chen Hoe would not have asked for a better start to their World Cup campaign. The win came in the wake of a 2-0 win over Nepal in an A international friendly on June 2 also in Bukit Jalil.

A happy Cheng Hoe said after the win over Timor Leste: “We played well to instructions and I hope the players can keep the momentum for the return leg. The scoreline looks impressive but it was not an easy match.”

It was a night when Johor Darul Takzim’s Corbin Ong, playing only his second international match for Harimau Malaya scored his first goal for the country with a header off a cross by his JDT teammate Safawi Rasid on the right to open the floodgates after 11 minutes.

Malaysia could have gone 2-0 up but Safawi muffed a penalty on 16 minutes after veteran Norsharul Idlan Talaha was felled inside the box by a Timor Leste defender. Safawi’s spot kick was saved by goalkeeper Aderito Fernandes.

Fernandes may have saved the penalty but he could not stop Shahrel Fikri from taking the score to 2-0 for the home team when he finished off a cross by Matthew Davies in the 23rd minute.

Norshahrul showed his finishing touches when took the score to 3-0 two minutes before the break and Safawi made up for his penalty miss when he scored Malaysia’s fourth goal in added time.

The healthy scoreline somewhat saw Malaysia take the pedal off the gas and Timor Leste – coached by Japanese Nokio Tsukitate – pulled one back off a counter-attack in the 52nd minute. Skipper Joao drilled home a low shot past the on-rushing Farizal Marlias, the Malaysian skipper.

This woke up the Malaysians and seven minutes later Safawi got his brace – a gem which saw the ball hit the underside of the bar before hitting the back of the net and Fernandes was beaten for the fifth time.

There was more to come from the hungry Malaysians, ranked 168, with a volley by substitute Faiz Nasir from an assist by Davies to take the score to 6-1. Another substitute Akhyar Rasid completed the rout with the seventh goal in the dying minutes of the match.  RIZAL ABDULLAH

 

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