The opening AFF Futsal Championship Group A matches kicked-off this evening at the awesome Bangkok Arena in the shadow of reigning champions and favourites Thailand who had a rest day.
In the absence of the Thais, the attention shifted to Malaysia and Timor Leste who both walked away winners today.
Manuel Sarmento blasted four goals to lead Timor Leste to a hard-earned 6-3 come-from-behind win over Singapore while Malaysia brushed aside Brunei 9-1 in another Group A game tonight. The wins were a crucial start for both teams in their quest to qualify for the Asian Futsal finals next year.
Hosts, favourites and reigning champions, Thailand had a break today and will open their campaign tomorrow against Singapore. Only the top four teams here will make it to the Asian finals in Uzbek.
In the earlier match this evening, Timor Leste bounced back to record a 6-3 win over a spirited Singaporean side. Singapore in fact snatched the lead just two minutes into the game through Amir Zalani who added a second in the 18th minute. Sarmento squeezed in a goal in the eighth minute to provide Singapore a slender lead going into the break.
Timor Leste came on with more urgency as they hunted for the equaliser but they were stunned by a third Singapore goal from Mohamad Helmi two minutes into the second half.
Timor refused to give in and with Sarmento leading the attack, they charged forward and surprised their opponents with two quick goals in as many minutes. Sarmento scored in the 23rd and 24th minutes to complete his hattrick. He blasted his fourth goal in the 28th minute which effectively ended Singapore’s game.
Timor went on to score two more through Machel Carvalho and Jose Lopes in the 31st and 39th minutes to claim full points from their opening encounter.
In the fourth and last match of the day, Malaysia’s Ahmad Fawzul Mohamad found the back of the net with an amazing half-volley after only 32 seconds. Five minutes later, Aizad Daniel doubled the scoreline. It was the best start the Malaysians could have asked for in this tournament.
Faizul Jefry Zaini drew one back for Brunei in the ninth minute but Muhammad Fitri Yatim soon restored the lead in the 11th minute. Ahmad Fawzul helped himself to a second in the 12th minute to provide comfortable three-goal lead at halftime.
After the break, Malaysia added five more goals including a second from Fawzul in the 25th minute. The four other goals came from Saiful Nizam Mohamad Ali (30th), Aizad (26th), Akmarul Nizam Mohd Idris (28th, pen) and Mohammad Awang Eisa (35th, o.g).
Prior to the evening session’s matches today, two Group B games were held in the morning. Myanmar had beaten Philippines 13-0 while Vietnam defeated Laos 13-1.
“It is a good start but the real game will be on Saturday when we play the hosts (Thailand),” said Malaysian coach Marcelo Serpa.
Group B: Vietnam bt Laos 13-1, Myanmar bt Philippines 13-0
Group A: Timor Leste bt Singapore 6-3, Malaysia bt Brunei 9-1
Group B: Myanmar vs Australia (11.30am), Philippines vs Laos (2pm)
Group A: Timor Leste vs Brunei (4.30pm), Singapore vs Thailand (7pm)
Group B: Australia vs Philippines (11.30am), Vietnam vs Myanmar (2pm)
Group A: Singapore vs Brunei (4.30pm), Thailand vs Malaysia (7pm)
Group B: Philippines vs Vietnam (11.30am), Laos vs Australia (2pm)
Group A: Malaysia vs Timor Leste (4.30pm), Brunei vs Thailand (7pm)
Group B: Myanmar vs Laos (11.30am), Vietnam vs Australia (2pm)
Group A: Singapore vs Malaysia (4.30pm), Thailand vs Timor Leste (7pm)