By ERIC SAMUEL
PETALING JAYA: Malaysia picked up their biggest win in SEA Games men’s football when they thrashed Timor Leste 11-0 in their opening Group A match in Vientiane yesterday.
It was the biggest margin of victory in the history of the Games since the biennial tournament began in Bangkok in 1959 as the SEAP Games.
Only twice before had the margin of victory gone double digits – in 1995 (Chiang Mai) when Indonesia whipped Cambodia 10-0 and in 2007 (Korat) when Vietnam hammered the Philippines by a similar margin.
Malaysia previous big win in the series was a 9-0 rout of Cambodia in 1995.
At the Main Stadium of the National Sports Complex in Vientiane yesterday, Ahmad Fakri Saarani led the goal fest with a hat-trick, scoring in the 41st, 70th and 77th minutes.
Norsharul Idlan Talaha scored a brace (3rd, 30th) and the other goals came from Baddrol Bakhtiar (12th), Mohd Zaquan Adha Abdul Razak (15th), Safiq Rahim (28th), Mohd Aidil Zafuan Abdul Razak (58th), Amirulhadi Zainal (88th) and Amar Rohidan (90th).
Malaysia were expected roll over the relatively newcomers to the Games, who made their debut in the 2003 edition in Vietnam. They were 6-0 up at half time.
Striker Norsharul said that despite the flattering scoreline, they had to keep their feet firmly on the ground as they would be up next against fancied Vietnam on Sunday.
“No doubt, this is a fantastic start to our campaign but the real test will come against the Vietnamese,” he said in a telephone interview.
Norsharul added that they would have scored a bigger win if they had made a few more sitters count.
Malaysia are hoping to end a 20-year gold drought in the Laos Games. Their last success was in their “home” Games in 1989.
In another Group A match, defending champions Thailand and Vietnam played to a 1-1 draw. The Thais took the lead and Vietnam salvaged a point with an equaliser in stoppage time.
The action in Group A action continues tomorrow with Vietnam taking on Timor Leste while Thailand play against Cambodia. Malaysia have a four-day break before taking on Vietnam on Sunday (4pm, Malaysian time).The opening round fixtures in Group B will be played on Saturday with Singapore up against Indonesia and Laos against Myanmar. STAR