Ahmad Shakir Ali saved the national team's blushes as his stoppage time goal saw Malaysia scramble a 1-1 draw with unheralded Philippines in an international friendly at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila yesterday.
Prior to the game, Malaysia had beaten Philippines in all but one of their previous 13 meetings and memories of the humiliating 1-0 defeat to the hosts 21 years ago came flooding back after Germany-based Denis Wolf headed Philippines ahead in the 35th minute.
With goalkeeper Neil Etheridge of Fulham in brilliant form for the home team, denying the Malaysian strikers time and again in the second half, coach K. Rajagobal's worst fears were almost realised until Shakir's late strike.
Shakir, who earned the last of his three international caps in 2009, came on with just minutes remaining to score his second international goal after turning left-back Jason Sabio and slotting left-footed past Etheridge a minute into stoppage time.
Besides Shakir, defender S. Subramaniam played his first international for four years while Zaquan Adha Radzak started the second half after missing all 10 of Malaysia's internationals last year through injury.