Sunday, 20 November 2011

Late goal from Ahmad Fakri gives Malaysia ticket to final in SEA Games

Striker Ahmad Fakri Saarani popped up to score a late winner to help Malaysia edge Myanmar 1-0 to qualify for their second consecutive final in the men’s Under-23 football competition at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Senayan yesterday.

The match was headed for extra time as both teams struggled to break the deadlock before Ahamd Fakri’s opportunistic goal five minutes from time sealed victory.

Substitute striker Izzaq Faris Ramlan had earlier done well to win the ball at the top of the box before setting up Mohd Irfan Fazail with a shooting chance in front of goal. But Irfan’s shot took a deflection off a defender and the lurking Ahmad Fakri, who was a bundle of nerves throughout the game, nailed the winner.

Malaysia had earlier made heavy weather of this absorbing match and, to make matters worse, they were without coach Ong Kim Swee, who was banned from the bench.

Where’s the ball?: Myanmar’s Zaw Zaw Oo and Malaysia’s Fandi Othman looking to the sky during their semi-final match Saturday.

Without Kim Swee barking orders from the sidelines, the Malaysians looked like headless chickens.

Even with Kim Swee giving instructions to his assistants from the terrace, his men could not get their act right.

Team masseur Mohd Zaidi Abdul Latif and kitman Mohd Sukri Haimi kept running up and down the steps with instructions from the coach.

Team manager Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin, assistant coaches Hassan Sazali and Yong Wai Hwang tried in vain to get the players organised but they hardly tested Myanmar goalkeeper Thihasthu in the first-half.

Myanmar started off aggressively and wrested control of the game but failed to trouble the Malaysian goal.

The raids, led by strikers Min Min Thu and Kyaw Ko Ko, were often foiled by the Malaysian defence, ably marshalled by Mohd Fadhli Shas and Mohd Muslim Ahmad.

Lone striker Syahrul Azwari had the best chance to score but failed to get the better of goalkeeper Thihastu in a one-on-one situation in the fifth minute.

Kim Swee rushed down from the terrace as soon as the whistle was blown for the breather and his pep talk did make them play with more urgency.

There was a slight improvement as Malaysia went on the offensive but again they were let down by poor finishing.

Kim Swee admitted that his men did not play well in the first-half.

“This is the price we pay for playing in the absorbing match against Indonesia two days ago.

But my men came back in the second half,” said Kim Swee, who was furious with the organisers for not allowing him to get onto the pitch with the team after the final whistle.

Malaysia’s contingency plans for the coach to be equipped with walkie-talkie also failed.

Myanmar coach Steffan Hasson had objected at the managers’ meeting against Kim Swee being equipped with a walkie-talkie or handphone to communicate with the bench.

Assistant coach Hassan Sazali said they were left with no choice but to get the masseur and the kitman to be the runners.

“We did it the hard way ... but it was worth it,” said Hassan.

Myanmar coach Hasson was gracious in defeat, saying the better team won although he felt that Myanmar were the fitter side after having more days of rest.

“In the end we lost because of a lack of concentration,” said Hasson.

Myanmar’s best chance of the game came when Min Min Thu’s shot from point blank range was saved by goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat in the 60th minute.

Malaysia: Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, Mahalli Jasuli, Mohd Fadhli Shas, Mohd Asraruddin Putra Omar, Mohd Irfan Fazail, Baddrol Bakhtiar, Ahmad Fakri Saarani, Mohd Fandi Othman, Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim (Izzaq Faris Ramlan, A. Thamil Arasu)), Mohd Nazmi Faiz (K. Gurusamy), Mohd Muslim Ahmad.

Myanmar: Thihasthu, Zaw Min Tu, Yan Aung Win, Aye San, Min Min Thu, Kyaw Ko Ko, Pyaye Phyo Oo (Aung Myint Aye), Kyi Lin, Kyaw Zeyar Win (Min Mintun), Zaw Zaw Oo (Yan Aung Kyaw), Shwe Hlaing Win.

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