BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Bojan Hodak's Malaysia U18 maintained their perfect record in the 2017 AFF U-18 Youth Championship, after they thumped Timor-Leste 3-0 in their Group A match on Friday.
In the match that was held at the Thuwunna Stadium, rising star Akhyar Rashid, returning to the starting line-up after he was rested by Hodak in their second group match against Singapore, opened the scoring as early as in the eighth minute, after he capitalised on a defensive error by Timor-Leste.
Their second goal only happened in the 56th minute, when Nurfais Johari pounced first on a weak clearance following a corner kick. The Young Tigers then took the chance to kill the game just before the final whistle, when their opponents were pushing on to pull one back. Starting from a counter-attacking move, Akhyar dribbled into the penalty area before selflessly squaring the ball towards Saiful Iskandar Adha Saiful Azlan in front of the goalmouth, who did not miss from six yards out. The result meant that Timor-Leste will not be able to qualify for the semis, regardless of the results of their last two group matches.
In the other Group A matches, Singapore kept their qualification hopes alive by defeating Laos 3-0, while Thailand kept close with Malaysia by beating Cambodia 1-0.
Malaysia are currently top of the group with nine points, Thailand are second also on nine, while Singapore are third on six. On matchday four this Sunday they face Cambodia, while Thailand will play Singapore. If the Young Tigers win against Cambodia and Thailand defeat Singapore, both Malaysia and Thailand will secure their place in the semi-finals.
Meanwhile, matchday two of Group B which had taken place on Thursday saw both matches end in goal-fests. Brunei were hammered 8-1 by Vietnam, while Indonesia thrashed the Philippines 9-0, courtesy of a hattrick by Feby Eka Putra.