Malaysia win, Singapore lose

Team of the Week – Matchday 12

Singapore and Malaysia enjoyed contrasting fortunes in the opening matches of their AFC U23 qualifiers on Wednesday.

Malaysia began their campaign to qualify for January’s AFC U23 Championship in China with an emphatic 3-0 win over neighbours Indonesia, while Singapore went down to a 2-0 defeat against Myanmar.

Malaysia beat 10-man Indonesia 3-0 in their Group H encounter at Bangkok’s National Stadium thanks to goals from Syafiq Ahmad, Jafri Firdaus Chew and N. Thanabalan in the opening half an hour.

Kedah striker Syafiq Ahmad lobbed the Indonesian keeper in just the fourth minute to open the scoring before Jafri Firdaus Chew doubled their tally on 18 minutes with a header from a free-kick.

N. Thanabalan’s header from Syazwan Andik’s 29th minute corner completed the scoring. Indonesia’s Asnawi Magkualam was then handed a red card in the 69th minute which effectively ended the match as a contest.

Malaysia coach Ong Kim Swee was understandably happy with the performance.

“In the first half, after we took a 3-0 lead, I told the players to keep their discipline and they did very well. The Indonesians played a good game and had very quick movement. The three goals that we scored were very good goals from set pieces. However, for the games with Thailand and Mongolia, we will have to change our tactics, said Ong.”

Singapore, meanwhile, got off to a disappointing start against Myanmar in Yangon.

In a match played on a waterlogged pitch both sides enjoyed chances in an evenly matched first half, although Myanmar were lucky not be a man down after Thiha Htet Aung received only a yellow card for a nasty stamp on Singapore’s Muhaimin Suhaimi.

The hosts then took the lead on the hour mark through Aung Thu’s chipped finish.

Both teams were reduced to 10 men in the 69th minute after a goalmouth scuffle before Myanmar grabbed the clincher through Hlaing Bo Bo when he netted the rebound after his header came back off the post.

Malaysia face Thailand on Friday in their second match, while Singapore will play Australia.