Battered, bruised and embarrassed: Malaysia's qualifying horror show
Harimau Malaya coach Dollah Salleh came into the match determined to overcome what he described as the worst match of his coaching career, June’s 6-0 home defeat to Palestine.
Instead, he was manning the controls as the Malaysians suffered the biggest loss in the nation’s footballing history to leave them cemented to the bottom of Group A with one solitary point and a dreadful minus-16 goal difference after just three fixtures.
Dollah ended up using three goalkeepers over the course of the match, but none of them could prevent the Emirati running up a cricket score. Between them, Khairul Fahmi, Zamir Selamat and Khairul Azhan conceded four, three and three goals respectively.
Salem Al-Enezi opened the floodgates in the 13th minute with a stomping header. Ali Al-Abri was up next, scoring just six minutes later as the Malaysian defence started to crumble and the warning signs sounded loud and clear.
Ahmad Khalil grabbed a brace, netting in the 24th and 33rd minutes, with Habib Fardan also getting in on the act as the score hit 5-0.
But UAE were just getting started. Al-Abri would get his double by the 37th minute as Malaysia trudged to the dressing room with their tails between their legs, down a staggering 7-0 at half-time.
They allowed three more goals in the second half, which represented some form of improvement. Al-Abri secured his hat trick in the 76th minute but he was to be outdone by Khalil, who notched two more goals in the 70th and 78th minute to earn himself the match ball.
As is often the case, Omar Abdulrahman was the star of the show with his fancy flicks and inventive play, and the only surprise was that he didn’t end up on the scoresheet himself.
The previous heaviest defeat suffered by Malaysia was an 8-2 reversal at the hands of New Zealand way back in 1967. UAE will now hold that particular record and they did it in emphatic fashion.
With the other ASEAN countries like Singapore, Thailand and even Cambodia – who only lost in Japan by three goals – on an upward trajectory, Malaysia appears to be on a significant downhill slump.
Granted UAE are one of the most talented and up-and-coming sides in Asian football, but 10-0 is clearly an unacceptable result at this level of the international game.
It is a worrying state of affairs for Malaysian football and Football Association of Malaysia in particular, which will come under even more scrutiny after this.
The future is surely looking bleak for both Dollah and Malaysian football, at least in the immediate term.