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Malaysia lift AFF U-15 title in comeback win, U-18 bounce back

19:41 GMT+3 09/08/2019
Malaysia U-15, AFF U-15 Championship, 09082019
P. Maniam's charges gave themselves a boost of confidence ahead of the AFC U-16 Championship qualifiers next month, after lifting the regional title.

BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter

Malaysia U-15 capped off a fine one month, this time lifting the 2019 AFF U-15 Championship title with a brilliant come-from-behind 2-1 win against hosts Thailand in the final match on Friday.

Just like in their three previous matches, Maniam Pachaiappan's charges went behind first, Theekawin Chansri heading in the opening goal from a corner kick in the 16th minute.

But just like in the three matches, they did not give up and kept pushing for the equaliser, which only came in the 69th minute. Izrin Ibrahim's low shot from outside the box squeezed in between the defenders and beyond goalkeeper Kasidech Rungkijwatthanakul's grasp.

The tide swiftly turned in the Young Tigers' favour just before regulation time ended, with the hosts going down to 10 players after Phakphum Kunkongmee was sent off for a second booking. The resulting free kick led to a corner kick, and Nabil Qayyum Zainuddin diverted Aliff Izwan Yuslan's delivery into the net with a powerful header, for a late winner against the same side that had held them to a 1-1 draw in the group stage.

Under Maniam, the side that is composed of National Football Development Programme trainees had earlier won two invitational tournaments; the Jockey Club Football Tournament in April, and the CFA Football Tournament in late July, with their victory in July coming from wins against continental powerhouses Iran and DPR Korea.

They will next take part in the 2020 AFC U-16 Championship qualification in September, having been drawn against Laos, Cambodia and Japan in Group J.

Meanwhile, earlier that day, their seniors Malaysia U-18 gave themselves a lifeline in the 2019 AFF U-18 Championship that is being held in Vietnam, after they defeated Singapore 3-1 in their second Group B match, to go up to second place, behind Australia.

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