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Malaysia thrashed by North Korea again, Asian Cup qualification hopes over

Three days after their 4-1 loss to North Korea at the I-Mobile Stadium in Buriram, Portuguese coach Nelo Vingada fielded a weakened line-up and their opponents once again ran comfortable winners by the same scoreline to end Harimau Malaya's already faint chances of making the 2019 Asian Cup. 

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Vingada's line-up puzzlingly did not include a single player from runaway Malaysia Super League (MSL) champions Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT). Skipper Safiq Rahim, who was expected to return after suspension in the reverse fixture on Friday, was left on the bench.

Hafizul Hakim Khairul Nizam Jothy stayed in goal, a clear sign that the Perak custodian is Vingada' No.1.
 

Safiq and Fadhli were introduced at half-time as Vingada changed his formation from a back-four to a back-three

It was refreshing to see Adam Nor Azlin, Nor Azam Azih and Ahmad Khairul Anuar in the line-up but there were questionable decisions in just about every department as the likes of Amirul Azhan Aznan, Shahrom Kalam, Fazly Mazlan, Hadin Azman and Syafiq Ahmad got the nod over S. Kunanlan, Fadhli Shas, Safawi Rasid and Ahmad Hazwan Bakri respectively.

Safiq and Fadhli were introduced at half-time as Vingada changed his formation from a back-four to a back-three, but it was too late by then.

Malaysia were already down 3-0 at the break after a hattrick by Kim Yu Song. The 22-year-old forward was at the end of two corners inside the first 20 minutes and got his third after finding himself unmarked in front of goal in the 44th minute.

Malaysia actually held a fair amount of possession in the second half but did not cause much trouble in the final third of the pitch despite matching the North Koreans in other departments.

 

The Koreans seemed happy to sit back, move the ball around at the back to invite the Malaysians to push men forward in the second half. Malaysia looked better defensively until they allowed Pak Kwang Ryong with a simple tap-in in the 79th minute.

Vingada introduced Safawi, who scored Malaysia's sole goal in the 4-1 defeat at the same venue last week, in the 67th minute. The youngster scored another consolation, this time against the run of play in the 85th minute.

Malaysia are bottom of Group B with just one point after five matches and even with a win in their last fixture against Lebanon, cannot qualify for the Asian Cup in United Arab Emirates in 2019.
 

Photos: Asiana.my