Malaysia got off to a positive but shaky start after only clinching a narrow 2-1 win over Brunei in the opening day of the football event in the 2017 KL SEA Games. Adam Nor Azlin struck in the second half to give the home side all three points after Mohamed Zulkhairy had stunned the home crowd with an equaliser in the first half.
An equaliser that send shockwave around the Shah Alam Stadium as Malaysia were very much dominant in the match prior to the concession of the goal. In fact, Malaysia started the match like a team possessed and applied immediate pressure on the away defence.
Twelve minutes was all it took for Malaysia to take the lead when Matthew Davies pulled out a wonderful cross with his weaker left foot, for the onrushing Safawi Rasid to rifle home a first time that gave the Brunei keeper no chance. A superb effort and surely one of the contenders for the goal of the tournament.
"First of all, I'm thankful for the win and with the goal, I was able to help the team to get three points. Tonight in the first half, we were at our best but in the second half, we gave all we got to get the three points."
"It's not that we aim to win by a big margin but we managed to create a lot of chances tonight [Monday] despite missing most of them. I think I can still perform better especially in keeping hold of the ball and my passing," said Safawi after the match.
The Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) forward had missed the AFC Under-23 qualifier last month but was handed a recall for this games. Given his performance in the first match, it was a justified decision to rope in the former T-Team FC starlet.
On a night when Malaysia struggled to find their shooting boots, Safawi emerged as the main goal threat. On top of the first goal, Safawi was undeniably the man who produced the most shots at the Brunei goal, some on target and some not.
Playing as one of the front three, Safawi rotated with Jafri Chew and Syafiq Ahmad throughout the match. There seemed to be a lack of understanding between the trio but that can only be improved in the coming days with more training time done.
Not the best of starts but one which is nevertheless a positive one, Malaysia will next take on their neighbours, Singapore on Wednesday.