Malaysia beat PNG 2-1 to earn first win since quartet’s retirement

Malaysia will enter the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup on a positive note after coming from a goal down to defeat Papua New Guinea 2-1 and record their first win since June. 

The Tigers had not won a game since Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) quartet Safiq Rahim, Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak, S. Kunananlan and Amirul Hadi Zainal retired after the Oceania Tour.

The Tigers have not won a game since Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) quartet Safiq Rahim, Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak, S. Kunananlan and Amirul Hadi Zainal retired after the Oceania Tour.

The hosts were stunned early in the match, but Ahmad Hazwan Bakri and Amri Yahyah struck back to ensure Malaysia enter the AFF Suzuki Cup on a winning note.

The victory at Shah Alam Stadium also ensured Malaysia, despite their constant woes, remained unbeaten at home in 2016. Malaysia defeated Timor Leste twice and drew with Macau and Afghanistan at home this year.

The Malaysians had lost 2-0 to Papua New Guinea during the Oceania Tour.

Malaysia coach Ong Kim Swee rang in a few surprises in his line-up, testing Matthew Davies at left-back, dropping Shahrul Saad back to central-defence and starting with Johor Darul Ta’zim II players Darren Lok, Irfan Fazail and Zaquan Adha – all of whom play in the second tier Malaysia Premier League (MPL).

The trio did not disappoint Ong, putting in a brave display to save the tie after Nigel Dabinyaba capitalised on a poor clearance by Shahrul to put the visitors ahead after just six minute. The forward’s shot deflected off Shahrul on its way into the goal.

Malaysia levelled the score after a lovely interchange between Lok and Irfan before the latter flicked the ball into the box for Ahmad Hazwan Bakri to volley it into the back of the net.

The Tigers were awarded a penalty barely a minute into the second half after Alwin Komolong brought down Lok.  Skipper Amri Yahyah stepped up and ensured the hosts were no longer chasing the game.

Malaysia will announce their final squad for the Suzuki Cup on Tuesday before leaving for Yangon the following day.

The Tigers open their regional campaign against Cambodia on November 20 before taking on Vietnam (November 23) and Myanmar (November 26).

Photos: FAM