Malaysia struck an important 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup qualifying win as Harimau Malaya edged Thailand 2-1 in a thrilling Group G match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil here last night.
Muhamadou Sumareh fired home the winning goal in the 56th minute to complete Malaysia comeback following a superb second half display from Tan Cheng Hoe’s side.
The ‘War Elephants’ under Japanese Akira Nishino’s charge started well and took the lead after only seven minutes through Chanatip Songkrasin.
Malaysia remained calm but kept up the ruthless attacks before Brendan Gan put Malaysia back on level after slotting in a brilliant pass from Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) midfielder Mohamed Syamer Kutty in the 26th minute.
The victory gave Malaysia their second win in the campaign after losing to United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Vietnam while Thailand taste their first loss.
In tonight’s match, Cheng Hoe made a couple of changes in his starting line-up from the Vietnam loss in Hanoi, last month, with Khairulazhan Mohd Khalid replacing Mohd Farizal Marlias as goalkeeper, Muhammad Syahmi Safari taking over from Matthew Davies and Muhammad Syafiq Ahmad replacing Norshahrul Idlan Talaha as striker.
The adjustments appeared to produce a more lethal attacking approach and a much better performance in defence as Malaysia managed to keep their cool throughout the 90 minutes of play.
However, Thailand who are ranked 109th in the world had a golden chance to at least pull a draw in the 81st minute but Khairulazhan made an important save to deny Supachok Sarachat’s effort.
Malaysia had several chances in the closing moments to add more goals but in the end the game settled for a 2-1 win to Malaysia.
Elsewhere in the Group G match tonight, Vietnam defeated UAE 1-0 at the My Dinh National Stadium to top the group with 10 points.
Malaysia currently stand in fourth place sharing six points with UAE while Thailand are in second place with seven points.