Football: Malaysia defeats defending champions Thailand in semi-final

BANGKOK Luck was on our side as Malaysia has knocked out defending champions Thailand from the AFF Suzuki Cup semi-finals.

The ten-man Harimau Malaya advanced to the finals on the aggregate after withstanding the War Elephants to a 2-2 draw in a very intensive match at the Rajamangala Stadium yesterday.

Thailand seem to have sealed their win towards the very last minute after being awarded a penalty kick on the 92 minute of the 5 minutes of extra time.

Syahmi Safari was given a red card for a handball and was sent off on the 94th minute. Thailand’s striker, Adisak Kraison took his penalty kick and ended with a bad finish as he missed the penalty which he kicked the ball high above the goal.

Earlier in the match, Malaysia scored twice and held Thailand with goals from Syahmi (28th minute) and veteran striker Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (71st minute) after the hosts took the lead by an own goal by Irfan Zakaria (21st minute) and Pansa Hemviboon (63rd minute).

Malaysia’s National Coach, Tan Cheng Hoe, made one change to his line-up with leftback Nazirul Naim Che Hashim making his debut in place of injured Syazwan Andik Ishak.

Thai Coach, Milovan Rajevac, brought in midfielder, Mongkol Thosakrai and defender, Phillip Roller for Mika Chunonsee and Nurul Sriyankem.

Thailand were the dominant side in the first 15 minutes of the match by the roaring capacity of the home crowd at the Rajamangala Stadium.

Malaysia’s defense manage to hold Thailand’s attacks well until the 18th minute after the seasoned centreback Mohd Aidil Zafuan Abdul Razak pickup up an injury and had to be subbed off with Irfan.

Irfan had a debut to forget as he scored an own goal three minutes after his introduction. It was a sloppy clearance by goalkeeper, Mohd Farizal Marlias that hit Irfan and caused the ball to go to the back of the net.

Thailand’s lead lasted seven minutes after Malaysia scored the equalizer against the run of play after Syahmi made a shot from outside the box at the 28th minute.

Thailand gave Malaysia pressure on the second half. Pansa put the War Elephants in front after heading from close range off a free-kick.

Cheng Hoe brought in Akhyar Rashid for the worn out Safawi Rasid in the 67th minute. The revitalized attack saw Harimau Malaya equalize thanks to Norshahrul’s shot from inside the box on the 71st minute.

Thailand seemed to have sealed their seat to the finals after winning a late penalty kick for a handball but Adisak rocketed his shot above the goal.

Malaysia will play either Vietnam or the Philippines, who will play their second leg of the semi-final today.

The two-leg final is scheduled on December 11th and December 15th.

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Written by Adam Low

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