Asian Games 2018: Malaysia cruise to opening win over Kyrgyz Republic

Piala Malaysia 2019: Selangor 1-1 PDRM

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Malaysia got their Asian Games 2018 campaign off to a fine start on Wednesday after recording a 3-1 Group E win over Kyrgyz Republic at the Jalak Harupat Stadium.

Having started the brighter of the two teams, the Malaysians were presented with the perfect opportunity to take the lead shortly after the half-hour mark when Akhyar Rashid was clipped by Tamirlan Kozubaev inside the area following a clever one-two with Safawi Rasid.

Safawi stepped up to the spot and made no mistake in dispatching the penalty in off the post with ferocity to hand his side a 37th-minute lead.

Kyrgyz Republic managed a response ten minutes after halftime when their opponents were caught napping at the back; Ernist Batyrkanov finding space at the near post to meet Mustafa Iusupov’s dangerous right-wing delivery with a glancing header past Haziq Nadzli.

Nonetheless, right on the hour mark, Ong Kim Swee’s charges reclaimed the lead through a fine effort by Akhyar, who perfectly timed his late run into the box to meet Safawi’s cross at full tilt and send an emphatic first-time effort into the back of the net.

Despite being in control of proceedings, it was the Malaysians who continued to show greater initiative going forward and Baddrol Bakhtiar spurned a decent chance nine minutes later when he blazed over at the back post after being set up by Akhyar.

But, with 12 minutes remaining, Malaysia duly made sure of the win with a blistering counterattack as Safawi tore down the right before his floated pass was nodded home by Syafiq Ahmad, capping off a fine afternoon’s work from the Southeast Asian side.

The result means Malaysia are at least guaranteed joint-leadership of Group E by the end of Wednesday, with Korea Republic taking on Bahrain later on Wednesday.

KYRGYZ REPUBLIC: Kalysbek Akimaliev, Mustafa Iusupov, Tamirlan Kozubaev, Askarbek Saliev, Amanbek Manybekov, Eidiiar Sardarbekov, Aizar Akmatov (Davliatzhan Baratov 90+1’), Azim Azarov (Kadyrbek Shaarbekov 81’), Kairat Zhyrgalbek Uulu (Atai Dzhumashev 77’), Odilzhon Abdurakhmanov, Ernist Batyrkanov.

MALAYSIA: Haziq Nadzli, Dominic Tan (Adib Zainudin 76’), Irfan Zakaria, Adam Nor Azlin, Rizal Ghazali, Nik Akif Syahiran (Syahmi Safari 63’), Baddrol Bakhtiar, Syazwan Andik, Safawi Rasid (Faisal Abdul Halim 83’), Akhyar Rashid, Syafiq Ahmad.