Malaysia capitalised on a fourth-minute goal to overcome Australia 3-0 and edge closer to securing a semi-final spot in the AFF Under-15 Championship here. Host Thailand also improved their chances of advancing when they defeated Cambodia 4-0 in another Group B match at the Institute of Physical Education later in the evening.
The only team to not concede a goal here so far, Malaysia are top with nine points while Thailand are second with as many points. Both sides remain unbeaten after three matches and have two ties each to play, including a showdown between them on the last day of the preliminaries.
Despite the defeat, Australia remain third with six points and will have to wrest full points in their next two games to try and make it through. Against Malaysia today, the Australians fell behind after a penalty was awarded when the game was just a few minutes old.
Defender Muhammad Daniel Edzuan Mohd Anuar stepped up and converted. A second goal from Muhammad Nabil Qayyum Zainuddin lifted the confidence of the Malaysians and it was over in the 70th minute when Muhammad Izrin Ibrahim added his name to the scoresheet.
In the other Group B game today, Laos defeated Brunei 3-0 to earn their first victory of the tournament. In their earlier matches, Laos narrowly lost 2-1 to Thailand and went down 3-0 to Australia.
Three more Group A matches will be contested tomorrow. Timor Leste, unbeaten in three matches, will face Singapore while Indonesia, also without a defeat, will take on the Philippines. The third match of the day will involve Myanmar and Vietnam.
Australia vs Malaysia
It was a dream start for Malaysia as they surged ahead after four minutes. Muhammad Aliff Izwan Yuslan picked up a short corner kick from Muhammad Adam Uwais Mohd Armi and crossed. A defender inadvertently handled the ball and presented Malaysia with a penalty. Defender Muhammad Daniel Edzuan Mohd Anuar blasted into the top left corner, just beyond the reach of keeper James Nieuwenhuizen.
Australia launched some fine moves, forcing the Malaysians to scramble and defend their goal. But the Malaysians also created chances for themselves and in the 28th minute were rewarded with a second. Adam Farhan Mohd Faizal whipped in a low cross into the box which Muhammad Nabil Qayyum Zainuddin hammered in.
As the half progressed, Australia began to take control, the level of their attacks intensified. Their forwards, Adrian Segecic and Daniel Helweh were working their way through the defence and forced some good shots in. The Malaysians were under severe pressure and scrambled to clear the danger. Then, against the run of play, the Malaysians shot further ahead. Skipper Mohamad Khairil Mohd Zain sent Nabil forward and he drove the ball across for Muhammad Izrin Ibrahim to tap in.
Malaysian coach P. Maniam was proud with his players and the way they carried themselves. “The boys deserved to win 3-0, because of their determination, their fighting spirit, we also showed that we have good quality in the build-up. But it’s still early, we need to focus on the next match. As a coach, and with the coaching staff, we are very proud of them. We can see their motivation, it was everywhere on the field, we could see their true character.”
Australian coach Trevor Morgan commented that his team would learn from this match. “It was a very good match for us. Malaysia prepared very well and gave our boys an experience that we will learn a lot from. I was proud of our second half performance, and we look forward to the next match against Thailand, it’s perfect for us. I think the boys have come here to learn about Asian football, so we welcome great competition and good opponents, it’s a great experience for us.”
Brunei vs Laos
A brilliant 27th minute corner kick from Anantaza Siphongphan set the mood for the game. His superbly taken corner curled in and keeper Muhd Khairul Hisyam Hj Norihwan did well to get his hands to it, but it was not enough to stop it from crossing the line.
Thipphachan Khambai One eased his side further ahead with a simple tap in from within a few feet, turning in a cross from Khonesavanh Keonuchanh in the 40th minute. Thipphachan helped himself to another, this time having to work a little harder for glory. He latched on to a long ball into the box, turned a defender and side-stepped the keeper to slip in the third goal for Cambodia.
Thailand vs Cambodia
Thailand are on a high after two victories, including a smashing 7-1 win over Brunei here two days ago. Today’s match was to ensure they were well in the hunt for a semi-final position. After several misses, the Thais finally broke the deadlock in the 19th minute. Sittha Booniha’s corner kick sailed over the box and found Wongwat Jarcentaveesuk.
Thailand were all smiles when they were awarded a penalty in the 34th minute when Tanawat Srisawat was brought down. Thai skipper Theekawin Chansri stepped up to complete the task but to his dismay, his somewhat poor shot was saved by Heng Ratanakbandith. Theekawin had another chance when the ball landed in his path, but he shot wide.
Although they had better run in the second half, the goals did not come easy as Cambodia challenged their opponents all the way. Their defence, which even the Thai coach, Salvador Valero Garcia later admitted was solid, made life difficult for the hosts. They eventually grabbed a second through Kongpop Sroirak in the 49th minute and in the last few minutes, two more from Thanawat Saipetch (77th) and Chonnapat Buaphan (80th).
“Thailand has good technic and tactics, but for our players tried hard, they wanted to win, I’m satisfied with my players. They are improving and I want them continue,” said Inoue Kazunori, the Cambodian coach.
Garcia was especially happy that his team, for the first time, had not let in any goals. “For us it was very important to win today against a very organised team today. Cambodia has very good defensive tactics, their coach has Italian influence and their team is very well organised defensively. We tried to beat this and we could do it by generating good chances.”
“It was very important to improve our defence for this game, we had conceded two goals against Brunei and Laos. We worked a lot to fix this problem, but we still have a some adjusting to do against tough opponents like Australia and Malaysia, they will be demanding in terms of defending.”
RESULTS AND FIXTURES
Venue: Institute of Physical Education (IPE)
Malaysia bt Australia 3-0
Laos bt Brunei 3-0
Thailand bt Cambodia 4-0
1500hrs: Philippines vs Indonesia
1530hrs: Myanmar vs Vietnam
1800hrs: Timor Leste vs Singapore