Interim coach Ong Kim Swee introduced new faces on his Harimau Malaya debut but did not manage to secure a win against the spirited Azkals
BY AZUAN SYAH Follow on Twitter
Malaysia and Philippines battled to a scoreless draw on Saturday night as Ong Kim Swee's debut in charge of the national side failed to get off to a winning start.
The home side started off well with defender Amiridzwan Taj's header in the 12th minute disallowed by the referee for infringement.
Four minutes later, another chance appeared for Harimau Malaya but skipper Aidil Zafuan hit the crossbar after getting his head to a corner from Nazrin Nawi.
The hosts continued to showcase their superiority in the first-half, with Nazrin looking particularly threatening on the left. It was his cross that almost led to a goal after it was headed on by Safiq Rahim, but once again, the crossbar came to the Azkals' rescue.
Amazingly, the woodwork denied them a third time on 19 minutes as Amri Yahyah took Hafiz Kamal's splendid through ball in his path and fired an effort from the edge of the penalty box on to the post.
Malaysia continued to pile on the pressure with striker Safee Sali spurning a chance in the 38th minute after his effort was comfortably saved by Patrick Phillip Deyto.
After being overrun in the first-half, the visitors doubled their efforts to push forward and almost got the lead in the 60th minute after a move on the left flank found James Younghusband, whose
fierce shot from inside the penalty box was saved by Khairul Azhan.
The partnership of Amri and Mahali Jasuli on the right flank almost brought a goal for S. Kunalan in the 70th minute, who missed the former's cross by a few inches. Three minutes later, Safee fired a shot from 20-yards out but the ball went wide.
Four minutes before the end, Mahali made a surging run on the right and turned his marker inside out before unleashing a shot with his left foot, but it hit the side netting.
The visitors came close just before the final minute when Jason De Jong went past three defenders on the break and found himself with just the goalkeeper to beat, but Asraruddin Putra Omar managed to clear the ball away.
In the end, Malaysia failed to utilise their far superior ball possession and home advantage as a sturdy Phillippines side came away with a hard-fought draw.