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Asian Cup Qualification

  • November 19, 2013
  • • 20:45
  • • Stadium Shah Alam, Shah Alam
  • Referee: Sang-Woo Kim
  • • Attendance: 4079
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Malaysia 0-1 Qatar: Toothless Tigers fall in Shah Alam

Malaysia 0-1 Qatar: Toothless Tigers fall in Shah Alam

Goal

Malaysia lost 1-0 for the second time in five days, again showing little attacking threat coupled with naive defending to extinguish any Asian Cup qualifying hopes.

In the first half it was the visitors who unsurprisingly dominated possession, forcing Malaysia to play more like the away side, relying on quick counter-attacks to fashion their best chances.

The Malaysian central midfield constantly struggled to contain the sharp Qatar partnership of Khalfan Ibrahim and Hasan Al Haydos, and it was no surprise that the latter would create the games first opportunity. It was his fine through ball which just eluded Amiridzwan Taj, allowing Sebastian Soria to run through on goal, with the forward only thwarted by a fine save from an onrushing Khairul Fahmi.

Despite not enjoying the lion's share of possession, the Tigers looked dangerous on the break, and if not for various poor final balls from Safee Sali, K. Gurusamy and S. Kunanlan, they could have enjoyed more clear opportunities in the opening 45 minutes. Captain Safiq Rahim, who was looking effective on the ball, had the home team's best opportunity in the 23rd minute hitting a good half volley after Ibrahim Al-Ghanim's poor clearance, but it was always destined to go over the bar.

The home side were fortunate not to be reduced to 10 men on the half hour mark, as Razman Roslan stamped on Ali Afif after a coming together between the two which went unsighted by the referee. This failed to slow the visitors down however, and five minutes before the interval they had their best chance of the match. For the third time, left-back Abdelkarim Hassan got beyond Mahali Jasuli, and he cut the ball back for Afif who hit a deft side footed effort into the near post. Despite being unsighted, Fahmi pulled off a wonder save to keep his team level going into the break.

Khalfan Ibrahim came close to breaking the deadlock on the hour mark with another trademark surging run from midfield. With substitute Azamuddin Akil unable to halt his progress, and Malaysia's defence standing off him, he fired in an effort from 20 yards which had Fahmi beaten, but it crashed off the crossbar.

Malaysia failed to heed this warning and within two minutes they were behind. The goal was all too similar to the one conceded on Friday against Bahrain, with a through ball played behind a flat Malaysian back line by Khalfan. This time it was Amiridzwan who got on the wrong side of Soria, and instead of firing across goal as Bahrain's Abdullatif did last time out, he unselfishly chipped the ball across goal leaving substitute Al-Ali with the simplest of finishes.

Despite the Maroons of Qatar having virtually already qualified for the 2015 Asian Cup, and Harimau Malaya desperate for a result, it was the visitors who continued to look for goals after the opener. Fahmi was worked again in the 74th minute as Khalfan, without doubt the game's standout player, warmed the keepers hands with a stinging low effort.

Even though Malaysia had 10 corners during the game, they were frequently unable to trouble the dominant Qatari defence. Their best chance of the second half came after a good cross by Nazmi Faiz, but Norshahrul Idlan Talaha was unable to guide the powerful low cross home. In truth, the home team looked devoid of ideas on how to get back on level terms, meekly going down to yet another loss.

Following this limp defeat, in which they again failed to even look like scoring a goal, fresh questions will be asked of both K. Rajagopal and the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) as Asian Cup qualification hopes have timidly been surrendered.

And only just over 3,000 fans filled an 80,000 seater stadium for the latest offering by their team, speaks volumes about the current public confidence in their national team, coach and FA.

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