TEMPERS were kept in check as Malaysia kept their Sea Games football semi-final hopes alive albeit with an uninspiring 4-0 win over Cambodia at the Chou Anouving Stadium in Vientiane yesterday.
The national Under-23 squad owed the Group A victory to goalkeeper Sharbinee Allawee Ramli who saved a penalty before producing a stunning save from a free kick in the second half with Malaysia leading 1-0.
Sharbinee was fielded because No 1 Farizal Marlias was handed a one-match ban by the Asian Football Confederation for his part in the trouble that followed Malaysia's 3-1 defeat to Vietnam on Sunday.
The three points, which kept Malaysia a point behind Thailand and Vietnam after three games, were only secured after Malaysia scored three times in the final minutes as Cambodia began to tire and lose their shape.
"The penalty save was the turning point, although from where I was standing it was not a penalty. The boys played well and kept their composure despite what happened against Vietnam so we live to fight another day," said coach K. Rajagobal.
|Abdul Manaf Mamat goes past Cambodia goalkeeper Samrith Seiha to score Malaysia’s opening goal in their Group A match yesterday. Malaysia won 4-0. — Pic: MOHD YUSNI ARIFFIN|
Malaysia produced a dour display in the first half-hour despite going close three times but it was Cambodia who were the more enterprising side.
Nippy winger So Seila gave the Malaysian defence a few scares with his darting runs on the right while striker Khim Borey should have scored for Cambodia in the 25th minute but shot across the face of goal after skipping past the Malaysian defence.
S. Kunanlan had an effort blocked on the line while Norshahrul Idlan Talaha fired tamely at goalkeeper Samrith Seiha after he outpaced the Cambodian defenders before the goal, which settled Malaysian nerves, finally arrived in the 35th minute.
It had an element of luck in it when Norshahrul's pass was deflected into the penalty area by a Cambodian defender, allowing Abdul Manaf Mamat to round Samrith before slotting home.
But for the second match in a row, Malaysia conceded a penalty, this time in the 52nd minute when Muslim Ahmad brought down Kouch Sokhumpheak in the box.
Kouch picked himself up to score past Sharbinee but referee Saleem Ali of Maldives ordered a retake which Sharbinee saved easily.
Sharbinee was called into action again in the 64th minute when he tipped over one-handed a free kick from just outside the box by Tieng Tiny.
The pressure eased in the 77th minute when S. Kunanlan pulled the ball back from the byline for Norshahrul Idlan Talaha to score just a minute after Safiq Rahim fired a point blank shot at Samrith.
Samrith again denied Safiq five minutes later only for Kunanlan to bundle the rebound home off the post before Safiq scored a penalty in the 86th minute when Kunanlan was brought down in the box.
There was time for Sharbinee to produce another outstanding save in injury time to stake a claim ahead of Farizal for a starting spot against Thailand on Friday. - NST