Arsenal thrilled fans with their very presence as they started their pre season tour of Asia with a 2-1 win over spirited Malaysia.
Labeled as the underdogs, our Malayan Tigers did not show any signs of fear or intimidation as they bravely attacked Arsenal whenever they gained possession, and as the first half wore on the Tigers began to pass the ball around effectively to maintain possession. It was Arsenal forward Gervinho who registered the game’s first effort on goal but Farizal Marlias calmly tipped away.
Minutes later, our free kick specialist Safiq Rahim’s managed to conjure up an 20 yard effort that almost caught out Arsenal's Italian goalkeeper Vito Mannone at his near post, however he was able to scramble across and turn the ball behind. The atmosphere inside the stadium was fantastic as the home support made themselves heard.
The Gunners showed their class as they passed the ball around with ease but Aidil Zafuan time and again saved Malaysia with his robust last ditch tackles. Moroccan hitman, Marouane Chamakh was man marked out of the game by Aidil Zafuan who stood tall against the physically strong striker.
On the 40 minute mark skipper Safiq Rahim threaded a neat through pass to Safee Sali who did well to escape his marker and let fly with a shot from a tight angle, however his effort was kept out by the increasingly busy Mannone.
As the first half was about to draw to a close, Azmi Muslim broke the deadlock with a stinging effort into the top right-hand corner of the goal past the hapless Mannone. The 45,000 strong crowd erupted in rapture while the Gunners were left stunned by the goal.
Our boys went into the dressing room with their heads held up high as against all odds; they led 1-0.
The second half started with Arsenal trying to get their way back into the game. Arsene Wenger made numerous changes but Malaysia did and stroked the ball around with confidence. Safiq and Safee combined yet again to present Safee with a sight on goal, however after cutting inside the Arsenal defence he struck his low effort directly at Mannone who saved it comfortably.
Arsenal finally found the equalizing goal through youngster Thomas Eisfeld who scored after an excellent work down the right by Nico Yennaris. Our boys seemed to be affected by fatigue as the back four lost their shape.
Moments later, Chuks Aneke broke Malaysian hearts as his deflected effort bamboozled Farizal Marlias. That goal silenced the home crowd as our Malayan Tigers were denied a famous draw against the Gunners.
It was a cruel end to the game but we can be proud of our boys’ heroic efforts that nearly stung Arsene Wenger’s men with an upset.