Malaysia’s football players are seen in action against Cambodia at the 31st SEA Games men’s football final Group B match at the Thien Truong Stadium in Nam Dinh May 16, 2022. — Picture via Twitter/FA Malaysia
HANOI, May 16 — Malaysia have advanced to the semi-finals of the 31st SEA Games men’s football competition with an unbeaten record after drawing 2-2 with Cambodia in their final Group B match at the Thien Truong Stadium in Nam Dinh, Vietnam, today.
However, whether head coach Brad Maloney’s Under-23 squad advance to the knockout round as group champions or not depends on the outcome of the match between Laos and Thailand at the same venue tonight.
If Thailand win, they will top the group with nine points, thus placing the national team as runners-up after collecting eight points from four matches.
In this afternoon’s action, Brad Maloney made eight changes from the starting line-up against Singapore in the previous match in an effort to rest key players ahead of the knockout round competition.
The first 45 minutes of the game was lacklustre, but the Cambodians, coached by Ryu Hirose, managed to break the deadlock at the end of the first half through a penalty kick by Choun Chanchav, awarded after the ball hit the hand of Quentin Cheng.
The national team had a golden opportunity to equalise in the 48th minute but Muhammad Hairiey Hakim Mamat’s header off a cross from Muhammad Hadi Fayyadh Abdul Razak failed to find the net.
Three minutes later, the equaliser came after Taing Bunchhai pushed Muhammad Syafik Ismail in the penalty box. Muhammad Hadi calmly scored from the spot for his first goal at the games.
However, Malaysia’s joy was shortlived as Cambodia went ahead again in the 61st minute through substitute striker Narong Kakada, who made a quick run away from Muhammad Ubaidullah Shamsul Fazili before blasting in his team’s second goal.
Maloney then brought in Luqman Hakim Shamsudin and Muhammad Syahir Bashah in the 64th minute, which paid off when Luqman Hakim’s short pass in the penalty box was driven into goal by Muhammad Hadi for Malaysia’s equaliser in the 68th minute.
Malaysia almost took a 3-2 lead but Muhammad Azam Azmi Murad’s attempt in the 70th minute went just wide after beating Cambodian goalkeeper Hul Kimhuy. The score remained at 2-2 until the final whistle.
In the semi-finals on Thursday, Malaysia will host Group A runners-up Indonesia at the same venue if they win Group B.
However, if they become runners-up, the national team will travel to the Viet Tri Stadium in Phu Tho province to take on Group A champions Vietnam. — Bernama