The Harimau Malaya survived playing almost an hour with 10 men to record their first point of the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup.
Group B’s opening game saw Malaysia and Myanmar play out a 0-0 draw at the Jalan Besar Stadium, despite seeing the former playing with a man down following Gary Steven Robbat’s first half red card.
Malaysia struck early, as Gary brought the ball out of defence in the fifth minute and sprung a through-ball to the feet of Amri Yahyah, who curled a low shot into the bottom corner. Unfortunately, it was ruled out for offside.
Myanmar hit back two minutes later, as Kyi Lin and David Htan combined well down the right to cross into the box. Nanda Lin Kyaw Chit met it, but headed over the bar.
Gary was soon booked for a late lunging tackle on Yan Aung Kyaw, while Amri had another chance to score in the 17th minute, dragging his shot just wide of the far post after Fadhli Shas cut the ball back for him.
Again, Myanmar responded quickly as Tin Win Aung fired a shot from distance that caused Khairul Fahmi Che Mat to spill the ball but manage to recover in time.
Just after the half-hour mark, Malaysia knocked on the door again, as defender Afif Amiruddin headed the ball over the bar from close range from a Mahali Jasuli cross, after it appeared that Fadhli got in his way. Three minutes later, Malaysia were down to 10 men, as Gary’s late challenge on Kyi Lin near the touchline was punished with his second yellow card of the night.
Malaysia continued to threaten, and four minutes before half-time, Amri fired a free-kick at goal. Goalkeeper Thiha Si Thu punched the ball directly back to Azamuddin Akil, but it came too quickly for him and he side-footed it out of play.
In the added time of the first half, Yan Aung tried and failed to lift the ball over Khairul Fahmi from distance, while a Mahali free-kick looked to have sneaked into goal before Si Thu parried it away well.
Malaysia returned for the second half energised as S. Kunanlan benefited from a poor cross-field free-kick from Myanmar captain Khin Maung Lwin, latching onto it and advancing into the box before tumbling under pressure from Aung Kyaw. The referee waved away appeals for a penalty.
Amri threatened again in the 66th minute, receiving Shukor’s cut-back with a deft lob that sailed just over the bar.
Myanmar were relatively quiet during the second period, but they sparked into life in the 67th minute, with Min Thu and Nanda Lin’s efforts forcing Khairul Fahmi into a double-save.
A raft of substitutions and tiring players took the sting out of the game, but with six minutes to play, Mahali Jasuli managed another excellent run to beat three players, before his cross-cum-shot was caught by Si Thu before it could creep into the top corner.
Myanmar had the final chance to win the game a minute later, as Khairul Fahmi was again called upon to push away efforts by Aung Zaw and substitute Kyaw Zayar Win before the ball was finally cleared by a Malaysian defence under pressure.
The Kelantan goalkeeper saved six shots on target in total and played a vital role in securing Malaysia’s first point of the tournament as well as the first clean sheet under Dollah Salleh’s charge.comments