Player ratings: Malaysia vs Papua New Guinea
Khairul Azhan Khalid – 6
Called into action only a few times, Khairul Azhan could have done better in one-on-one situations. The Selangor No.1 can’t be faulted for conceding the early goal, but he could have allowed a second after being rounded by Raymond Gunemba in the 35th minute, only for the PNG player to shoot wide.
Matthew Davies – 7
Played in an unfamiliar role at left-back due to a lack of options on the left, Davies came out unscathed. The Australian-born defender, however, was a bit hesitant to use his left foot.
Shahrom Kalam – 6
It was not one of his best games in national colours, but neither was Shahrom poor. The central defender was left for dead occasionally, but managed to use his experience to get Malaysia out of some dangerous situations.
Shahrul Saad – 5
Having played in a holding midfield role in previous matches, Shahrul returned to the heart of defence. A poor clearance in the sixth minute allowed Nigel Dabinyaba to score on a shot that deflected off the Perak defender. Shahrul did come out on top when the visitors had a three-on-one during a first-half counter attack that seemed certain to double Papua New Guinea’s lead.
Rizal Ghazali – 7
Kedah’s 2016 Malaysia Cup hero is making a big claim towards the right-back position and Davies’ display at left-back could see Nazirul Naim Che Hashim – the only natural left-back in the squad – being left on the bench. Rizal is tough and attack-minded, similar features that Davies has in his game.
Amri Yahyah – 6
The Malaysia skipper scored the winner from the spot in the 47th minute and had a decent game, but more is expected considering he wears the armband and has put out much better displays in the past. Yet Amri appears to be Ong Kim Swee’s best option on the left-flank.
Baddrol Bakhtiar – 7
Baddrol was crucial in stifling the visitors’ midfield. He is capable of more, as seen in his Kedah form, but is being played in a more defensive role for the Tigers due to a shortage of quality central-midfielders. Baddrol also distributed the ball well on Monday.
Irfan Fazail – 6
Another surprise starter but the fact is Irfan needs game time if he is to be a viable option should the occasion arise at the Suzuki Cup. The Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) II midfielder assisted Ahmad Hazwan Bakri’s equaliser and almost got one himself just before being taken off in the 59th minute.
Zaquan Adha Abdul Radzak – 7
Zaquan is starting to show just why Ong Kim Swee recalled the JDT II winger from a four-year wilderness. The 29-year-old has had his fair share of injuries but it all seemed a thing of the past as he ran past opponents to initiate breaks several times.
Ahmad Hazwan Bakri – 7
Hazwan almost broke the deadlock just minutes into the match with a low free-kick and even skied an attempt during a first-half counterattack, but he did well to smash in a near-range volley to cancel out Papua New Guinea’s lead in the 21st minute.
Darren Lok – 8
Arguably Malaysia’s best player. Lok was involved in both goals, chesting the ball down for Irfan Fazail to play Hazwan through in the first half and winning the penalty with a solo run moments after the break. His determination was evident and he was applauded off the pitch in the 59th minute.
S. Veenod – 7
If Malaysia need a player in the middle to disrupt opponents, S. Veenod is the man. The Selangor standout often won the ball in midfield and never stopped running.
Safawi Rasid – 5
Still only 19, Safawi could miss out on the Suzuki Cup after an unimpressive display. Safawi was also ineffective in a sparring match against the Malaysian under-22s last week.
Safee Sali – 6
Safee was cheered every time he got on the ball, but most of his touches were not in dangerous positions. Safee made countless runs to break free from the defence, but never received the supply his movement demanded.
Hadin Azman – 6
Brought on in the 69th minute, the heavy downpour did little to help his game. Yet Hadin stood out more than Safawi.
Norshahrul Idlan Talaha – 5
Perhaps the pitch conditions impacted his performance. The 69th minute substitute is good with the ball at his feet, but the field was so poor that control in the latter stages seemed to be his biggest challenge.
Khairul Fahmi Che Mat – N/A
He only came on in the 74th minute and had little to do in goal.
Main photo: FAM