# Skipper Safiq Rahim told of suspension just hours before the match
# ‘We overcame difficult conditions and odds to win’ Kim Swee
# ‘We paid the price for over confidence’ – Timor Leste coach Alcantara
Malaysia were hit by an early blow when skipper Safiq Rahim was told to sit out the second round Group A (Asian Zone) World Cup qualifying round match against Timor Leste in Dili on Tuesday.
In came Amri Yahyah with the skipper’s armband and he he turned out to be ‘Captain Marvel” – netting the all-important goal in the 10th minute which turned out to be the winner in Malaysia’s 1-0 win over Timor Leste.
It was Malaysia’s first win in the World Cup qualifier.
The three points took Malaysia out from the bottom of the group into fourth place with four points. Timor Leste plunged to the bottom with only two points from the 1-1 draw against Malaysia in the first-leg in Shah Alam and the 1-1 draw against Palestine at home last week.
It was a heartwarming performance from the Malaysians in Dili and Kim Swee deserves credit for instilling “passion, pride, commitment and discipline” in the team when the odds were against them.
Back to back wins by the national team has become rare and Kim Swee and his players will certainly cherish what they secured in Bangkok (defeating Laos 3-1 in a friendly) and the 1-0 win over Timor Leste in Dili for their first win in the group in the World Cup (Asian Zone) qualifier.
The joy Malaysia achieved in Dili could stand in good stead for their next World Cup encounter which is against Palestine (away) on Nov 12 before facing United Arab Emirates at the Shah Alam Stadium on Nov 17.
The home match against UAE will be played in an empty stadium after Malaysia were punished by FIFA for the crowd trouble during the home match against Saudi Arabia on Sept 8.
Malaysia were also slapped a fine of 40,000 Swiss francs (RM180,000) apart from losing the match with a 3-0 scoreline. Saudia Arabia were leading 2-1 in the match before it was abandoned after 88 minutes.
Kim Swee is the caretaker of the national team after Dollah Salleh quit following a 10-0 bashing at the hands of UAE away – Malaysia’s biggest defeat in the history of Malaysian football.
The former international who is also the national Under-23 coach is fast gaining reputation as the man with the midas touch as the national team showed plenty of passion, commitment and the desire to win under sweltering heat and hot and humid conditions in Dili – not forgetting the poor pitch conditions.
Timor Leste coach Fernando Rogerio de Alcantra was the first to admit that “over confidence” was cause of his team’s defeat in Dili on Tuesday.
“My players thought they could secure a win without much trouble,but this is football,” said Alcantra.