Malaysia U22 Ratings: Thanabalan leads the way in five-star SEA Games performance

Malaysians turned up to fill Shah Alam Stadium as the players found their groove on the pitch to defeat Myanmar 3-1 in the SEA Games Group A round robin tie on Monday. Vijhay Vick dishes out the grades…

HAZIQ NADZLI: 8

Haziq was again given the nod ahead of Ifwat Akmal Chek Kassim and he was commanding at the back, racing off his lines several times and collecting many aerial balls. He even prevailed when facing two Myanmar attackers on his own.

ADIB ZAINUDDIN: 8

There was talk of him making way for a faster defender, but the skipper showed his worth through some excellent defending. He was on his toes and made up for his lack of speed with good reading of the play.

IRFAN ZAKARIA: 8.5

Converted into a central defender just three months ago, Irfan kept Myanmar from having a decent attempt on Haziq’s goal in the first half with several last-ditch tackles. He even almost scored from a free-kick.

Ong gives out some instructions

ADAM NOR AZLIN: 7

Adam wasn’t the best of defenders on the pitch. He was left wrong-footed several times during the match, perhaps because he was too eager to close down Myanmar’s frontline. He improved in the second half and certainly did not lack determination.

MATTHEW DAVIES: 7.5

His crosses were again second to none and Davies came to rthe escue when Aung Thu appeared likely to go through on goal in the 25th minute. Davies was also involved when Malaysia took the lead as it was his shot that Thanabalan diverted into the back of the net.

SYAMER KUTTY ABBA: 6

Playing in front of a full capacity stadium for the first time, Syamer didn’t have the best of games from the start as he looked overawed by the occasion.

NOR AZAM AZIH ABDUL AZIH: 7.5

Back in the line-up once more, Azam was Malaysia’s main threat from the middle of the park and he pressured the Burmese, playing the ball down the channels many times to open up play. Azam, however, was taken off in the 56th minute after a series of hard challenges left him on the verge of a sending off.

SYAZWAN ANDIK ISHAK: 6.5

Returned to the starting side after a poor opening match against Brunei, the left-sided midfielder was efficient this time around. His crosses were still not as many as Davies on the other flank, but Syazwan was disciplined when defending.

N. THANABALAN: 8.5

Brought into the line-up after scoring the winner against Singapore, Thanabalan was again a thorn in the opponents’ side with his perseverance. He found himself in the right place at the right time to give Malaysia the lead in the 33rd minute. Thanabala then scored his second by heading home Jafri Firdaus Chew’s cross late in the match.

Thanabalan celebrates after his second goal

S. KUMAAHRAN: 8

Left to lead the front line again, Kumaahran actually looked more of a threat when he moved into space down the flanks. He was never afraid to shoot and it was his well-timed cross that got Malaysia the second goal almost immediately after the first.

SAFAWI RASID: 7.5

Arguably the liveliest of Malaysians on the pitch, Safawi got the better of the Myanmar defenders several times. Though usually lacking the defensive aspect, Safawi also dropped into midfield to stifle the visitors.