Malaysia’s Nik Akif Syahiran smashed in a last-gasp winner in the final against Myanmar today to be crowned champions of the AFF Under-19 Championship for the very first time. In what was a pulsating action-packed final, the Malaysians first took the lead, then fell behind before finally scoring in the 90th minute to edge Myanmar 4-3 and claim the title.
Malaysia, runners-up in this competition last year, had a stunning start, scoring through Awang Muhammad Faiz after only three minutes. Nik Akif added a second in the 19th minute and Malaysia looked well on the road to victory. But Myanmar bounced back with three goals before the break from Win Naing Tun (24th) and Myat Kaung Khant (27th, 31st) to take the lead.
Shivan Pillay Asokan then put the score back in level terms in the 76thminute. Just when the game was all but over, and all preparing for the dreaded shootout, Nik Akif hammers in an awesome freekick which scrapped the bar and slam into goal. Within the next few seconds, it was all over, as the Malaysians celebrated, the Myanmar players fell in despair.
The victory for Malaysia today was a repeat of their win over Myanmar in the last group match last week. In that game, Malaysia won 1-0 to top the group and set-up a semi-final showdown with hosts Indonesia. Myanmar went on to upset defending champs Thailand in the other semis.
In today’s final, Myanmar, fourth in the last four editions of this tournament, had a horrible start, allowing Malaysia to storm ahead early. Awang Muhammad Faiz fired over the defence but goalkeeper Zin Nyi Nyi Aung spotted the danger. He quickly moved back and got his hand to it but to his dismay, the ball dipped into goal.
In the 19th minute, Malaysia doubled the score when Nik Akif Syahiran crashed in a short cross from Muhammad Nurfais. Any thoughts that they were in the driver’s seat and poised for the good result, were soon wiped out within a space of just seven minutes. A defensive blunder in the 24th saw Win Naing Tun pounce on the loose ball and squeeze his shot between the onrushing goalkeeper and defender.
Three minutes later, Myat Kaung Khant pulled down a short cross and forced his shot in for goal No. 2. The Myanmar team was celebrating again just four minutes on when Myat Kaung Khant unleashed a wicked curler that popped into the top far corner.
Myanmar tried hard but were unable to hold their ground and allowed the Malaysians to equalise through Shivan. The goal clearly galvanised the Malaysians, who had their new Youth and Sports Minister, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman in the stand. A mistake by a Myanmar defender on Nik Akif on the left led to a freekick which the Malaysian player went on to score.
Myanmar: Zin Nyi Nyi Aung (GK), Aung Wunna Soe, Myat Kaung Khant (Cpt), Nyein Chan Aung, Tay Zaw Lin, Pyae Sone Naing, Soe Moe Kyaw, Win Naing Tun, Lwin Moe Aung, Nan Htike Zaw, Hein Htet Aung
Malaysia: Muhammad Azri (GK), Shivan Pillay Asokan, Ahmad tasnim Fitri, Muhammad Zahril Azri, Muhammad Anwar, Muhammad Nurfais, Nik Akif Syahiran, Muhammad Hadi Fayyad, Awang Muhammad Faiz, Muhammad Syaiful (Cpt), Ammar Akhmal
Matee Sarakum 85th
Feby Eka Putra 35th
Syahrian Abimanyu 83rd
Win Naing Tun 24th
Myat Kaung Khant 27th, 31st
Awang Muhammad Faiz 3rd
Nik Akif Syahiran 19th, 90th
Shivan Pillay Asokan 76th
Note: For the complete results and fixtures, please go to http://www.aseanfootball.org/v3/aff-u19-championship-2018/#1526567058939-ef16c19b-91be