Outstanding Young Tigers upset favourites South Korea
FAM
Malaysia claimed the biggest scalp in the 2018 Asian Games after they handed tournament favourites South Korea a 2-1 defeat on Friday night.

Seven month ago, it was a heartbreaking defeat for Malaysia U23 in the AFC U23 Championship when South Korea U23 sent the former out packing in the quarterfinals but it was sweet revenge in Indonesia for Ong Kim Swee and his boys.

After beating Saudi Arabia in January and United Arab Emirates last week, South Korea became the latest big team to suffer a defeat at the hands of this group of talented individuals that Ong has assembled.

Korea were dominating possession right from the start but in their eagerness to push men forward, left their rearguard very exposed. A long punt forward by Haziq Nadzli in the 5th minute saw Malaysia take the lead.

Korea's keeper Song Bum-keun caught the ball but clashed with his own defender and in the act, fumbled the ball. Safawi Rasid was on hand to gleefully tap home for Malaysia to take an unexpected lead.

But Korea weren't daunted and continued to hold most of the ball possession, and went in search of the equaliser. A combination of solid defensive display as well as rash finishing from the Koreans meant that Malaysia's goal could not be breached.

Haziq was called upon in the 34th minute to stop Hwang Hee-chan in an one-on-one situation and just five minutes later, Kim Jung-min thrashed a shot wide when he was presented with a good shooting chance.

Just when the referee was about to whistle for half time, Malaysia somehow found themselves two goals to the good. Safawi was the one involved once again and he nudged Hwang Hyun-soo out of the way to toepoke the ball from outside the box past an unprepared Song.

A desperate Korea were finally forced to threw on Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung-min in the second half as they look to recover from a two-goal deficit. Already overworked, it must not have been a pretty sight for the Malaysia defence to see a big star come onto the pitch.

With the main man finally getting his first appearance in the tournament, Korea started to increase the pressure and Malaysia were forced to sit really deep, relinquishing any turnover of possession almost immediately.

Yet with all 11 men behind the ball, Baddrol Bakhtiar and Syahmi Safari worked tirelessly to protect the defence and the Young Tigers held the fort firmly until the 88th minute.

Article continues below

Hardly called into action in the second half, Haziq's goal was finally breached when Hwang Ui Jo latched onto to a through pass to pull one back for Korea. But that was all the Koreans could muster and Malaysia held on to the win at the end.

The win takes Malaysia to the top of Group E ahead of South Korea in second place with one match remaining. Bahrain and Kyrgyzstan are both tied on a point each after their 2-2 draw earlier in the day.

A place in the knockout stage was the target by Football Association of Malaysia going into the tournament but after this magnificent win, Ong and his team could well be setting their sights on doing more than that.

Comments ()